How Airbnb, Tesla and Durex Monetized 800mm We Chat Users When Airbnb first entered China, it had no name — it literally did not even have a Chinese name.It had to grow from establishing presence to driving revenue.That’s less than those on the world’s most popular messaging app Whats App (900 million) and on Facebook Messenger (800 million).But those 650 million – and the number is growing rapidly – aren’t just telling each other what train they’re on, sharing photos of their breakfasts, flirting, or organising or conducting a meeting, though they do all of this too, of course. Users, in China at least, can order and pay for a taxi; donate to their favourite charity; send DIY postcards from whatever city they’re in; transfer money to a friend; find their nearest petrol station; check in for a flight; search a library catalogue for a book; shop; pay off a credit card; book a doctor’s appointment; follow the official accounts of celebrities ranging from Fan Bingbing to John Cusack; buy movie tickets; keep up with the Communist Party line via the People’s Daily (We Chat’s most heavily subscribed official account); check the points on their driver’s licence; top up their mobile accounts and find restaurant reviews, in some cases discovering how many people are queuing for tables before adding their names to the list.
What we do know is that some real estate agents are able to sell houses from the United States to Chinese people who want to secure their money by investing in American real estate.
This article will focus on Airbnb as a case study to demonstrate We Chat’s potential to enable a new business ecosystem on mobile, supported by shorter case studies from Starbucks, Tesla, LINQ Hotel and Durex.
Airbnb first launched its We Chat public account* in September 2014, just one day before the Mid-Autumn Festival — a 3,500-years-old tradition paying tribute to the moon and the harvest season.
A Chinese toy company has even created a cute little Bluetooth-enabled plush toy (‘Mon-Mon’) based on a popular We Chat emoji that a parent can use to send voice messages or even pre-recorded bedtime stories to their children while away – and all a child has to do to reply is press the creature’s belly and talk.
We Chat is, as David Pierce wrote in Wired magazine, ‘The Everything App’. Once connected, wherever you are in the world, you can chat individually or in groups via text, voice messages, or free Skype-like voice or video call.