The total number of social network users in China will grow 4.8% to 859.1 million in 2020, and by 2023, nearly all internet users (96.8%) will be social network users, according to our forecast. Though the growth rate of social network users in China is slowing, there will be at least 30 million more social network users added annually between 2020 and 2023.
Despite the enormous number of social network users in the country, penetration among the population will be 61.6% in 2020, due in most part to only 62.4% of the population having access to the internet.
But continued infrastructure investment from the government, especially in rural areas, will improve telecommunications, inviting more people to become internet users. We estimate that internet user penetration will reach 70.7% by 2023, which will increase the number of social network users.
Social network penetration is predictably high among younger generations in China. By 2019, more than half of internet users ages 34 and younger were social network users, while those 55 and older made up just 12.5%. This makeup is gradually changing, however. We estimate that the share of social network users ages 55 and older will rise to 17.4% by 2023, while users ages 34 and younger will drop to 44.0%.
These cohorts, particularly those ages 55 and older, will increasingly drive future growth in social network usage in China. Older demographics are “social network laggards” in every sense of the word. But as digitization sweeps across China, many more will feel a strong pull to these platforms.
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