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Majority of Digital Users in U.S. and China Regularly Shop and Purchase via

Chinese Digital Shoppers Are Nearly Twice as Likely to Purchase on Smartphones & Tablets in Comparison to Their U.S. Counterparts

Nearly a Quarter of Chinese Mobile Users Purchase Daily on Mobile Devices

NEW YORK, NY & BEIJING, CHINA (November 10, 2016)IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and IAB China today released the results of “Understanding Digital Commerce in the U.S. and China,” a study which shows that digital commerce is strong in the world’s two largest economies. In addition, Chinese digital users engage in more shopping behaviors on smartphones and tablets than those in the United States.

According to the research conducted by consulting firm Hypothesis Group, both the U.S. and China have achieved near-full adoption of digital commerce, with 89 percent of Chinese digital users ages 18+ and 84 percent of U.S. digital users ages 18+ saying they had bought a product or service digitally over the previous 12 months. When it comes to mobile commerce, China is leading the way in several areas:

  • 67% of Chinese digital users have made a mobile purchase over the previous 12 months vs. 34% of U.S. digital users
  • 24% of Chinese mobile shoppers purchase via mobile every day vs. 15% of U.S. mobile shoppers
  • 89% of Chinese mobile shoppers are interested in making a mobile purchase over the next month vs. 78% of U.S. mobile shoppers

Digital purchases now account for more than half (59%) of all monthly purchases in China and 42 percent of those in the U.S. Of those purchases, 48 percent are made via mobile in China, while mobile commerce accounts for 26 percent in the U.S.

The report also shows that cross-channel opportunities are plentiful in both markets, with a similar percentage of Chinese and U.S. digital shoppers utilizing both digital and offline channels when deciding on a purchase (31% China vs. 29% U.S.). Chinese shoppers are more likely to research and compare prices digitally while within a physical store, with 38 percent saying they do so all the time or most of the time, while 23 percent of U.S. shoppers do the same. They are also more likely to use more than one digital device over the course of the purchase process (67% China vs. 43% U.S.).

Americans tend to favor multi-product retailers when buying digitally, with 72 percent of U.S. digital shoppers making a purchase from one of these outlets compared to 61 percent of Chinese shoppers. Meanwhile, Chinese digital shoppers are more likely to buy from sites or apps that highlight discounts (63% China vs. 37% U.S.) or that allow them to compare prices from different sites or apps (51% China vs. 29% U.S.). Chinese shoppers are also more likely to make a purchase via a messaging app (29% China vs. 16% U.S.), while U.S. shoppers are more likely to buy via auction sites (33% U.S. vs. 25% China).

When it comes to making a purchase, American shoppers are much more likely to use a credit or debit card (63% U.S. vs. 34% China on computer; 37% U.S. vs. 6% China on mobile). In China, payment is much more likely to take place via a digital payment service like PayPal or WePay (47% China vs. 15% U.S. on computer; 36% China vs. 17% U.S. on mobile) or a mobile wallet service like Apple Pay (21% China vs. 2% U.S.).

While these numbers indicate strong adoption of digital shopping, obstacles still remain. Chief among these is security, with only 13 percent of Chinese digital shoppers and 30 percent of U.S. digital shoppers feeling completely safe shopping digitally. These feelings manifest in different ways depending on the country, with Americans shoppers concerned about information safety and privacy and Chinese shoppers fearing digital fraud and scams. Top benefits of digital shopping include convenience, ease of use, price, and selection.

“This study confirms that mobile is a crucial and growing part of the e-commerce experience,” said Anna Bager, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Video, IAB. “While China has always been a mobile-first culture, as their initial adoption of the internet was driven by mobile devices, we are now seeing tremendous year-over-year upticks in terms of mobile growth in the U.S. We expect to see that trend extend to U.S. mobile commerce going forward.”

“With Singles’ Day, one of the largest digital shopping days in the world, coming up tomorrow, it’s vital to note how much commerce happens on small screens,” said Chen Yong, Secretary General, Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China (IIACC) and head of IAB China. “Marketers who want to reach Chinese shoppers need to follow their lead by investing in mobile advertising, so they can bring their messages to the right people at the right time and right location.”

To view the full results of the “Understanding Digital Commerce in the U.S. and China” study, visit iab.com/uschinacommerce.

This study is based on a 20-minute digital survey designed and conducted by Hypothesis Group with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 online adults ages 18+ in the U.S. and China. Among these adults, digital shoppers were the particular focus. These respondents were asked about their shopping behaviors and attitudes on computers and/or mobile devices. Fieldwork was conducted between September 19 and October 12, 2016.

About IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB develops technical standards and best practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. The organization is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. There are 42 IABs licensed to operate in nations around the world and one regional IAB, in Europe. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a West Coast office in San Francisco.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]