The search for China’s searchers

The search for China’s searchers

When you’re number one at home, it’s a lot less fun to go abroad and be number three, four, or lower. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s search sites have that unenviable position in China today.

Why is this important?

Customer vote with their fingertips, as much as they can. Engineering-oriented American technology companies have a tough enough time trying to use innovation to grow, yet it takes much more than exporting technology to attract the same market share or type of customers.

Based on surveys of Chinese urbanites as part of the Technology User Profile 2009 Global Insights Edition, MetaFacts finds that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s MSN, Live, and Bing are ranked 3rd, 4th, and 5th as the preferred search engine. Each of these engines which dominate in the US have 5% or less share in China. The top two preferred search engines are Baidu with 68% and Sogou with 23%.

Furthermore, the few regulars which the American search engines have attracted are less active and demographically less desirable than those using dominant Chinese search engines.

Sogou, perhaps taking a page from the “we’re number two and we try harder” approach, have attracted searchers with the most interesting qualities for marketers. Sogou’s households are larger with nearly four persons on average to Google’s and Yahoo’s four. Sogou’s searchers are more sophisticated using mobile phones, with 61% regularly using their mobile phones for 11 or more activities, while Google’s and Microsoft’s customers are more likely to be basic mobile phone users. Sogou’s searchers also both have and plan to have the longest list of consumer electronics, from entertainment to imaging.

Taking the long view, perhaps American search engines’ foray into China might be seen as the first steps of a long journey.

Further Resources

MetaFacts Technology User Profile – 2009 Global Insights Edition – a syndicated survey of 30,889 representative respondents in 16 countries.

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