The Internet is a vast ocean of seemingly endless information, so it’s needless to say that search engines have become our go-to navigational tool for acquiring information, solving problems, and just…satisfying our curiosity.
And in China, there’s one search engine you really need to know about—Baidu. China’s leading search engine isn’t called the “Google of China” for no reason, and like its North American counterpart, Baidu attracts a massive number of users.
According to data released at the Baidu 2022 Wànxiàng conference, Baidu’s search volume grew by 17% compared to 2021, and the monthly active users of the Baidu app increased by 8%, reaching 628 million. That’s just the app, Baidu search has even more users.
For companies, because of the sheer number of people using the search engine, Baidu is a potential gold mine of new customers and business opportunities, helping them expand their market share and increase brand awareness.
Therefore, understanding Baidu’s user base and their search habits gives insight into user needs and enables businesses to explore new opportunities.
Today, we will walk you through the demographics of Baidu’s current user base, how they use Baidu’s search function, and what they’re searching for (AKA: search behavior).
This post started as a bit of a worry a digital marketer had about “…the majority of youngsters not using Baidu nowadays.”
When we asked our other clients, a few of them seemed to share the same concern. To find out what was going on, we thought we’d do a bit of research to see what was really happening.
You’ll be pleased (or relieved) to find out that it’s not true: Baidu is HUGE, and it’s more popular with the younger generation than ever. So, if you had any doubts about the efficacy of Baidu ad campaigns or you’re interested in how to harness the power of Baidu for your business—read on.
However, if this is your first time hearing about Baidu, or you have heard the name but are unsure how it works, we’ve got you covered. Take our comprehensive tour of China’s number one search engine: A Tour of Baidu – The Google of China.
Understanding Baidu Search Users: A Portrait
Younger: Users cover all age groups, with the largest proportion being the 18–35 demographic.
Note: The Target Group Index (TGI) is an indicator that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a target group within specific research contexts, such as geographic regions, demographic sectors, media audiences, or product consumers.
The TGI calculation formula is as follows: TGI Index = [Percentage of the target group with a particular characteristic / Percentage of the total population with the same characteristic] * standard value of 100.
The TGI index highlights the variations in attention towards issues among users with diverse characteristics. A TGI index of 100 signifies an average level, while a value exceeding 100 indicates that a user category’s focus on a specific issue surpasses the overall average.
Educated: Approximately 40% hold an associate degree or higher.
Geographic Concentration: Users are primarily concentrated in first-tier (e.g., Beijing, Shanghai), emerging first-tier (e.g., Hangzhou, Nanjing), and second-tier (e.g., Harbin, Dalian) cities. However, there has been rapid growth in lower-tier markets, with the number of users in third and fourth-tier cities increasing.
Higher Income Levels: Users generally enjoy a higher income compared to the broader Internet user base, and both individual and family spending levels are relatively high.
In the following section, we will delve into the search habits of an evolving and diverse user base and explore the emerging trends shaping the landscape.
Trends in Baidu Search Habits: A New Era of Diversity
Nothing seems to stand still in the world of search technology. User searches have changed from just looking for information to acquiring services and engaging in product transactions.
The medium has also changed: Searches are no longer just text-based. Users can now use voice-activated prompts and upload images.
Furthermore, search terminals have expanded from PCs and mobile devices to smart home appliances and intelligent in-vehicle systems.
As technology advances and search services change, the term “search” has been redefined:
“Users actively express their needs through text, voice, and images to obtain
information and services that cater to a wide range of demands.”
Depending on the content, searches can be categorized into informational, product-based, and service-based searches.
Search engines like Baidu allow users access to information and services and connect with vertical search engines (including content community, e-commerce, and life-service platforms).
Informational: To satisfy their work, study, life, and entertainment needs, users search for general (as well as professional or academic) knowledge, information, and news content. These informational searches often stimulate users’ desires to make purchases, and satiate B2B buyers’ curiosities about new brands and products.
Product-based: To purchase goods or download resources, users search for information about brands, product features, and prices. What began as an initial search for an item, service, or product could potentially lead a user to the point of purchase.
Baidu search, therefore, helps guide users through the entire decision-making and transaction process.
The main fields include
- food and beverage,
- digital 3C products,
- home appliances,
- daily beauty and care,
- automobiles, and
- clothing and accessories.
Service-based: To address life and business service needs, users conduct this search type and complete the entire process from inquiry to consultation and then reservation to payment.
Key areas include
- inquiries (e.g., express delivery tracking),
- consultations (e.g., legal advice, medical inquiries),
- reservations (e.g., medical appointments, automotive services), and
- payments (e.g., utility bills).
As users’ search habits change, businesses and marketers need to keep pace with the latest trends to create effective strategies that match user needs.
Exploring the Business Value of Baidu Search Services
In the digital age, search services are vital in consumer decision-making across various online contexts and behaviors (such as shopping and searching). Companies can fully leverage platforms like Baidu to attract user attention, establish trust, and encourage purchases.
Meeting Diverse Needs in the Decision-Making Process
User needs are often categorized by type: for example, they might be organized into outdoor, social, or information.
More than 70% of users rely on search to support their decision-making process, highlighting its importance in acquiring information and guiding choices. After seeing something for the first time via traditional media, outdoor advertising, or Internet ads, users who want to know more will follow up with a Baidu search.
Overall, these search services excel in meeting user requirements.
Enhancing Trust and Stimulating Purchase Behavior
Search services are a valuable source for obtaining brand and product information, which helps increase trust and encourage buying behavior.
Research shows that users trust brand information acquired through a Baidu search, which directly impacts their purchase decisions. Relevant information includes
- brand/product prices,
- user feedback,
- promotional offers, and
- purchasing channels.
Alleviating Doubts, Strengthening Relationships, and Improving Customer Retention
Research reveals that over 95% of users participating in experiential consumption (such as trial classes, short-term insurance purchases, or test drives) continue to use search services after their experience.
This is so they can evaluate the consistency between product descriptions and actual experiences and reduce potential risks. This emphasizes the value of search services in alleviating consumer doubts, promoting customer retention and conversion, and establishing strong, post-purchase relationships between customers and brands.
Driving Experiential Consumption and High-Value Conversions
To increase reach and exposure, companies should adopt a multi-channel approach by using all that Baidu has to offer: Baidu Zhidao, feeds ads, Baijiahao, and more. Once users’ interest is stimulated, this will lead to experiential consumption (small purchases) and more potential customers.
As users delve deeper into product/service details and enter the brand’s domain, from this point onwards, there’s a good chance of them converting into long-term, high-value customers (making big purchases).
For users who made small purchases, the proportion of clicks on Baidu Zhidao and search ads increased by an excess of 200% during the long-course purchasing process, demonstrating the significance of search services.
Baidu, China’s leading search engine, is an integral part of daily life for countless users. It’s an indispensable tool for both individuals and businesses, helping to bridge the gap between curiosity and knowledge.
As technology advances and user search habits evolve, businesses need to adapt their strategies to cater to customer needs and preferences.
By understanding the characteristics of Baidu’s extensive user base and the trends shaping their search habits, businesses can seize new opportunities for growth and expansion.
By harnessing Baidu’s search capabilities and all it has to offer, companies can engage with users across different online contexts and establish meaningful, long-lasting connections with their customers.
In the end, it’s really up to you.
Want to stay ahead of the competition and be at the forefront of the dynamic digital age?
Two words: Baidu search.
Whether you’re seeking further information about Baidu marketing or you have your own insights to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
For everything else China or China marketing-related, there’s our China Digital Marketing 101 page.