As China's first super APP with more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, WeChat has become an indispensable social tool for people. WeChat mini-program, which are attached to WeChat, naturally enjoy a huge and enthusiastic traffic pool, and attract investment from numerous enterprises.
Around 2017, the growth of China's mobile internet market slowed down and the growth in online time of individual devices nearly stopped. Proven and leading applications occupied much of users' online time, and interest in new applications gradually declined. Customer acquisition became increasingly difficult for emerging applications, and the phenomenon of "the strong becomes stronger" was seen in the field of mobile applications. In many industries, the Matthew Effect in the mobile app market is already prominent. Due to the user-friendliness, device permissions and inconvenience of mobile apps, users longed for apps that do not need to be installed and un-installed, and are always available for use at their fingertips and ready to exit after use.
The WeChat mini-program was officially launched on January 9, 2017, and the number of mini-program exceeded 1 million by July 2018. According to the Alading Research Institute, by the end of 2021, the number of mini-program across the whole network exceeded 7 million, the number of mini-program developers exceeded 3 million, and the daily active users (DAU) exceeded 450 million.
II. Investigation and analysis
In order to analyze the development trend of mini-program, we need to conduct in-depth investigation and data mining on mini-program. We used the mini-program index TOP100 on the Alading mini-program statistical platform as the data source. The algorithm of this index selects four major mini-program performance indicators including DAU, sharing, length of stay and depth of visit and takes into account multiple indicators to comprehensively cover the main links of the whole process of mini-program. This index is authoritative in the mini-program research industry.
Based on the findings of our review of the mini-program index TOP100 list on Alading's mini-program statistical platform for each month from 2020-2021, online shopping, life services, and mini-program as useful tools have remained the three most popular industry categories and have occupied about half of the list in most months. Other industry categories on the list are: Video, Games, Social, Catering, Content & Information, E-government & Public welfare, Offline retail, etc. The turnover rate of the list is around 20% every month, and the rankings of other mini-program always on the list changed over time. It is worth noting that E-government & Public welfare and Offline retail mini-program, such as the State Council mini-program, health code, travel code, group purchase of food, supermarket, entered the list in large numbers or their rankings improved in some months. This was related to the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and adoption of lockdown measures in different cities.
III. Development trends
The development trends of mini-program can be summarized below:
1. Market trend —— Lower-tier Markets
Judging from the development trend of mini-program in recent years, mini-program have not only become increasingly popular in first-tier and second-tier cities, but also built a strong user base in third and fourth-tier cities or even counties. With gradual saturation of metropolitan markets and the buildup of the advantages of leading mini-program, the competition in big cities is getting fiercer and the costs are gradually increasing. It is inevitable that an increasing number of companies will develop lower-tier markets and tap more market space at lower costs.
2. Industry trends - E-commerce, Live streaming, Retail, Community group purchase and Tools will remain the most popular industries, and e-government services and big health deserve attention
Judging from mini-program index rankings, e-commerce is the indisputably the number one most popular industry for mini-program. As WeChat is likely to introduce public domain traffic for e-commerce mini-program streaming, the already popular live streaming commerce will become more attractive to enterprises.
Meanwhile, retail and community group purchase, which are closely related to daily life, are constantly witnessing the participation of leading Internet companies, thus intensifying the competition in those industries. Particularly in the case of epidemic outbreaks and lockdown, retail and community group purchase mini-program have become almost essential tools for everyone to help buy daily supplies and still have great potential. In today's situation of coexistence with viruses, e-government and public welfare and big health mini-program have become essential tools for people to go out. It is believed that all this will continue for some time in the foreseeable future.
As for mini-program as useful tools, although they are one of the most popular industries, the question of how to increase exposure and improve reuse rate has become a problem that mini-program as useful tools companies must consider. Enterprises should be prudent about choosing mini-program whose content is too focused or lacks core competitiveness and try to avoid narrow-minded development. Under the premise of giving prominence to core functions, relevant enterprises may add sub-functions to cater for users' multiple needs, or split the subdivisions into separate mini-program to form a matrix. Additionally, those mini-program should actively leverage the platform's social advantage to expand their influence.
In addition, data shows that users aged 18-29 contributes 46.5%, 55.3% and 47.7% of the total user base of life services, catering and tourism mini-program respectively. Life services, catering and tourism have constituted three new life scenarios for young people, and smart community, smart travel and smart homes are reshaping the lifestyle of the new-generation youth.
3. Operation and service trend —— Refined operation, brand cultivation
In today's world where mini-program have already become the private domain infrastructure for corporate brands, the only way that a brand may start the transition from "traffic" thinking to "retention" thinking is to create its own private domain traffic pool through digital transformation and refined operation of the enterprise.
Therefore, there is a need to build a "private domain matrix" comprising WeChat ecological products like mini-program, enterprise WeChat, video channels, mini-program live streaming and public accounts to guide the transformation of user needs to service solutions in different scenarios. Mini-program ecology has become a main base of the new consumer era, and social marketing ability and customer management ability are the key factors for brand growth. It is believed that refined operation and brand cultivation will be the main focus of the development of each mini-program in the future.
4. Noteworthy feature – Mini-program shortcut (exclusive for Android)
Android phone users can create a shortcut for mini-program on the desktop. Like an APP, the shortcut allows users to quickly access the applet and go back to the desktop after exit. This is a real "use it and go" operation without the need to enter WeChat's mini-program section.
- 2021 White Paper on Mini-Program Internet Development - Alading
- Popularity Rankings - https://www.aldzs.com/viewpointlist
- An analysis of mini-program number, active users and financing in China in 2021 - www.chyxx.com
- A tentative analysis of current developments and future trends of mini-program – doc88.com