China’s online population is almost as big as the entire US population. Yet oftentimes, just like what happened to the term “Chinese consumers,” people tend to talk about China’s online population as a unified whole whereas there are just as many internet users as there are Chinese consumers.
Earlier in April, Tencent Mind, an online intelligence branch of China’s internet giant, interviewed 3133 internet users in 9 cities in China and analyzed their different online behaviors and values by city tiers. These differences were then mapped along scales of group vs. individual and virtual vs. reality.
Those living in Tier 1 cities are the most mature internet users in China. Due to the hectic city life and lack of spare time, internet uses in Tier 1 cities are more likely to use the Internet as a platform to manage both their online and offline personal networks and to keep in touch with friends.
Those living in Tier 2 cities have a relatively laid-back lifestyle and much more spare time. They keep a lot of their personal relationships offline. They use the Internet more as a tool to solve real-life problems, to learn and to widen their horizon.
Those living in Tier 3 cities see the Internet as a window to the outside world. They believe that they can find an answer to all the questions in life on the Internet.
Those living in Tier 4 cities have much less pressure in life. At the same time, they also have fewer opportunities to learn about the outside world and fewer options of entertainment. They look to the Internet for games, making new friends and fun.