Chinese citizens living in rural areas are getting used to the internet, as three million new internet users emerge from the countryside. This development pushed its regional online population to 26.3% of the whole online population of China.

Why it matters

The population increase of rural internet users presents the opportunity to sell products to more Chinese citizens, which means more money for marketers. Besides the current gain, the latest development can increase e-commerce and m-commerce adoption in China’s rural areas.

As stated by South China Morning Post, ‘Growth in China’s under-regarded rural internet use has, in turn, pushed up online sales among these users by 21% to represent an actual market of $109.6 billion (777.1 billion Yuan), well above the national growth rate.’

Digging Deeper

China has been drifting away from the brick and mortar options since 1989. They became the nation with the largest population online, in 2008, for two obvious reasons – high population and early modernisation.

In line with a biennial report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), ‘By the end of 2017, around 47% of Chinese rural internet users had embraced mobile payments’

The new report, which brought good news to all publishers interested in Chinese internet users, was conducted by the China International Electronic Commerce Center and reported by the South China Morning Post. The report unveils the evolving structure of China’s 854 million online populations.

Chen Tao, a senior analyst, warns marketers to act with caution. While it is true that there’s a population increase in China’s rural area, hopping on the trend might not be a good move for now. There are two major limitations to the adoption of ecommerce in these regions, namely; lack of internet know-how and low average income in rural areas.

Related:  10 Things Everyone Should Know About The New York Times Digital Report

In the short run, product categories like home appliances, digital, baby and maternal would thrive among rural internet users; however, in the long run, these categories may get broader as they get used to the internet.

To catalyze the adoption of ecommerce in China’s rural areas, the country’s largest ecommerce players are making moves to develop the area. For instance, Alibaba’s Rural Taobao initiative plans to improve 150,000 villages on the countryside in two years

Bottom Line

China remains a great place to market goods online with or without the newly added urban internet users, but the latest development is an added advantage to china-based marketers. With the influence of Alibaba’s Rural Taobao initiative and other platforms, the population of rural internet users should increase as the years go by.

  • Advisory Support
  • Insights & Data
  • Content Cluster Strategy Toolkit

You're busy, but you like to
get the best of digital media publishing.

Let it come to your inbox once
a week.


Stay on top of news and trends in digital publishing with our newsletter


See how a niche blog became a leading project management publications, earning $1million in revenue.

Request your FREE access to a video demonstration by


Matt Martel, Publisher, BusinessDesk NZ


Ben Aston, CEO,
Black + White Zebra

Claim my free access to the demo