• Cherlyn

2021 China’s Mini Programs Ecosystem Development Insights

China's mini-program ecosystem has maintained steady development, both the number of mini-programs and the number of users' usage data are growing rapidly. In such a rapidly developing mini-program ecosystem, product updates and optimisations, the maturity of the market environment, and changes in user behavior will help merchants reduce costs and increase efficiency in digital marketing and expand brand market influence.


Overview and Trends of Mini-Program Development in China in 2021


The annual development overview of China's mini-program in 2021 can be summarized by the following sets of data:

  • There are more than 7 million mini-programs in the whole network, including more than 3 million WeChat mini-programs

  • The WeChat mini-program DAU alone has exceeded 450 million

  • There are more than 2 million mini-programs in the sub-industry

  • The number of active mini-programs increased by 41% year-on-year, and transaction mini-programs increased by 28%


The accelerated expansion of mini-programs is inseparable from the rich traffic portals inside out of their products, except for in-app searching, offline code scanning and social sharing can access mini-programs, further through text messages, emails, and web pages, now you can also jump directly to the applet page by clicking the link, convenient access entry is the basis for rapidly expanding the number of users.






Scan the code in the APP to open WeChat applet (the applet code of a restaurant to scan the code for food ordering)










Open the applet through SMS link outside the APP (Chongqing Emergency Center Mini Program Promotion SMS)






The interconnection and interaction between different products and mini-programs enable products to form complementary advantages, open-up public domain, and private domain and help users’ retention. Taking the WeChat app as an example, the closed-loop functions formed by the functions of mini-programs, video accounts, official accounts and corporate WeChat directly cover goods promotion (live video account), sales (mini-program e-commerce), after-sales (Enterprise WeChat) and private domain precipitation (public account push) content, it forms a complete ecological closed loop from attracting traffic to sales conversion, and then to customer retention.


(The applet can broadcast live and sell goods)


From the changes in the types of mini-programs, compared with the previous top-ranked pan-entertainment mini-programs, the usage of life-type mini-programs in 2021 will grow rapidly, and the ranking of education, shopping, tourism, and life-service mini-programs will improve. It also intuitively shows that mini-programs are gradually deepening into the lives of Chinese netizens.


The Industry Ecosystem of mini-programs


Comprehensive Coverage

Different from the early days of mini-programs, many merchants are no longer satisfied with the single use of mini-program, they have already mastered the mini-program ecology and use different mini-program matrices to comprehensively establish relationships with customers. Taking the Bubble Mart WeChat applet as an example, users use a small program to purchase products, and user membership points and shopping sharing are a small program, merchants generally focus on sales business, and other mini-program are used to help enhance user stickiness and marketing promotion content. According to different business attributes, some merchants divide different mini-programs according to consumption scenarios, such as online and offline shopping, or use crowds to subdivide into mini-program matrices, but in the end, they are all to achieve comprehensive coverage of usage scenarios.


Payment Coverage

From the perspective of payment ability, in 2021, both WeChat and Alipay mini-program will enrich the digital operation capabilities of merchants. Direct transaction payment is possible in the applet, before shopping, merchants can issue coupons through the applet. After shopping, the applet membership points ability and payment ability are closely linked with the applet, making it easier for merchants to reach users and complete sales conversions.


Sub-sector Coverage

From the perspective of sub-sectors, under the impact of the epidemic, the shopping focus of Chinese netizens began to shift from offline to online, which objectively promoted the growth of the number of small programs. On the other hand, mini-programs have also added the functions of short videos and live broadcasts, catering to the most popular sales model with goods. In offline scenarios, the development of mini-programs is closely related to the development of smart retail.

Now more and more merchants in China are using the self-checkout function of mini-programs, which not only simplifies the shopping process, but also serves as an important entrance to attract users from offline to online mini-programs. Life service mini-programs are also a rapidly growing category, covering many aspects such as user travel, social networking, and government services, making mini-programs increasingly important in the lives of Chinese netizens. In the entertainment category, casual games are still active, and they have also become an important customer acquisition portal for advertising.

In China, public transportation or taxis can be completed by using the applet


User Behaviour Summary

From the perspective of industry segmentation, video mini-programs have achieved good development in 2021. Affected by the epidemic, the demand for the big health industry is also increasing, mini-programs have become the main way for netizens to obtain life services, such as ride codes and health codes have become a daily requirement. In terms of the number of visits to the Mini Program, the life service category is also the first category.

From the perspective of population classification, the proportion of young people is expanding, mainly using mini-program in the category of catering and tourism, while the users of mini-program in the shopping category are the 30-49-year-old group with strong purchasing power. From a regional point of view, the active users of mini-programs are concentrated in the southeastern region that is commercially developed, which also reflects the mutual promotion of the ecological development of commerce and mini-programs.


From the data summary in 2021, can be seen that China’s mini-programs still have great development potential in the future. The mini-program ecology is becoming more and more mature, in addition to the WeChat Alipay at the head, there will be more platforms appearing, and multi-platform solutions have become a new topic for enterprises. From attracting traffic to private domain operations, the mini-program ecosystem will boost the digital transformation of enterprises and build a new relationship between brands and consumers. The social marketing capabilities and customer marketing capabilities of the mini-program ecology are the key factors for brand growth and will be the key to reducing costs and increasing efficiency for enterprises.


Contact us for exclusive advertising strategies on mini-programs and the complete insights report.

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