2017 is coming to an end and it’s time to sum it up. Every year, countless products emerge, occur, change and die. Along with the growth of the Internet, we reviewed ten Internet trends of 2017.
Note: The following are listed in no particular order
1: Shared Bicycles
At the beginning of 2017, the bicycle sharing market was booming. After a year of development, the frenzied business has started to cool. Capital resources favor Mobike and ofo. Many of competing companies have already collapsed.
Hot money flowed to the industry. Without clear business models or operating logic, many shared cycling companies ended up in capital-driven models doomed to collapse.
The question for the season is whether ofo will merge with Mobike? With the sharing economy bubbling up, capital is also promoting a marriage between ofo and Mobike. Previously, Didi and Kuaidi, Meituan and Dianping all went through the same situation.
Zhu Xiaohu from GSR Ventures is one of ofo’s investors. He has repeatedly called for a merger between the two companies. Zhu said the current situation is clear, and there is no point in fighting a war that will damage both sides. Currently, ofo and Mobike account for 95 percent of the sharing bicycle market share, and the volume of shared bikes is oversaturated. A merger is the best decision to ensure continued profits.
Whether they will become one company is something we may see answered in 2018.
2: Unmanned Convenience Store
While the shared economy is keeping its momentum, the unmanned economy is beginning to shake up the market: unmanned factories, unmanned delivery machines and more. Among the emerging unmanned businesses, unmanned convenience store are the closest to daily life and drawing a lot of attention.
Participating giants are making sci-fi movies a reality. Unmanned convenience stores are already operating. Investors, impressed with the indispensable nature of convenience stores in daily life, are putting a lot of money into the business model.
Since December 2016, when Amazon Go appeared, unmanned convenience stores have been a hot industry.
Wahaha Group, which uses traditional industry as its basis for innovation, signed an agreement with Shenlan Techonology, supported by Alibaba, in June 2017. It will launch 100,000 Take Go unmanned convenience stores within three years and one million stores within 10 years.
In the same month, the first Bingo Box opened in Shanghai, and Easy Go opened its first Beta store in Guangzhou and kept rolling out updated versions.
In July 2017, Alibaba promoted unmanned convenience stores with unmanned service in its Tao Coffee stores.
Later, more unmanned convenience stores were set up, such as 24 Aigou, GOGO, F5 Future, Wheat and Saohuo Planet. Some providers from the supply chain have also launched unmanned services, such as Jiankangdun, a fresh delivery refrigerator enterprise.
Unmanned service is just a concept. What is important is that the convenience can cover residential areas. The core of the retail business is efficiency. In addition, unmanned convenience stores have great prospects thanks to their efficiency and potential for big data analysis.
3: Cold Chain Logistics for Fresh Food
Cold chain logistics of fresh food transforms the fresh fruit and vegetable market from offline to online. The e-commerce of fresh business develops fast due to the participation of delivery giants, warehouse distribution companies, and integrated supply chain providers. Thanks to increasingly improved logistics, delivery service and speed, the cold chain market of nearly 340 billion yuan has grown at a rate of more than 20%.
Several e-commerce giants all center their offline retail stores on fresh food. Both Alibaba Hema smart store and Yonghui Superstores invested by Tencent focus on fresh food. Meituan launched online to offline Zhangyushengxian. And Sun Art Retail Group, which owns RT-MART and Auchan, has potential for scale retail and transformation.
Alibaba Fresh Hema and Yonghui has already competed for the same mall plot. They both have respective advantages in penetration and commodity supply chains.
Early or late, fresh food will move from channel integration to e-commerce platform. This not only increased the usage of e-commerce platform, but also enhances re-purchase rate and improves user experience.
4: Shared Charging Pals
At the end of 2016, Sharing charging pal attracted many players in the market. After going through the first phase of crazy financing and occupying market, sharing charging pal enter into the second phase of arrear and layoffs to current project settlement.
Shared charging pal has low cost on hardwares. Following the trend of sharing economy, shared charging pal companies raised up huge amount of fund at rapid speed. Within 10 days from March 31 to April 10, 5 financings happened and over 20 institutions invested shared charging companies. The financing amount was close to 300 million yuan.
The revenue hasn’t been disclosed to the public. But we can see various charging pals everywhere. The argument between Leo Chen and Sephirex Wang further put charging pal into the forefront of public opinion. Later, just like sharing bikes, numerous shared charging pal companies collapsed.
A lot of people think market has falsified charging pals, while I don’t think so. For users, charging pals are not necessities but occasional need in emergency. Even if it is just a small demand, whether charging pal companies can eventually survive still depend on profit model and sustainable development.
5: Mini Karaoke
Mini KTVs emerge, such as M-Bar, miniK, WOW, miniK and others, in malls, theaters, airports, train stations, office buildings, restaurants and other places.
From Ai Media Consulting, in 2017, the size of China offline mini KTV market is expected to reach 3.18 billion yuan, up 92.7% from 2016, and in 2018, the market scale will continue to grow to 7.01 billion yuan, at the growth rate of 120 percent.
But this industry grows rapidly but also cools down suddenly. Mini KTV is a product existing between regular KTV and online singing software. Following the trend of sharing economy, mini KTVs become popular. However, after financing and expansion, mini KTVs in the hotwater of the market get doubts from users.
6: Online Crane Claws
Less than three months since the first online claw crane platform was established, over 30 online similar platforms appeared. New platforms continue to appear at doubling rate. The monthly revenue reaches over 10 million yuan with 30% – 60% of the gross profit margin currently from one million users. It is easy to see the profitable prospect. Thus, capital companies enter one after another. According to industry data, the market value of broadcasting catching dolls is nearly 60 billion yuan. Such large market has attracted companies and capital of all sizes to flood in.
Live-streaming the doll-catching looks like a new product, but it’s not. Because it is essentially a combination of existing industries such as live streaming technology, Internet of things and offline doll industry. It just presents these in a new form. If there is anything special, it’s the revolution of offline claw crane. It turns claw cranes to mobile or walking ones.
But just think about the miserable fate of Werewolf. Werewolf was once quite popular. Though with social function, this small-crowd game suddenly became faddish. Despite of good data and capital support, it flashed only as a spark.
7: Blockchain and Bitcoin
Bitcoin, what a crazy currency. When it was born in 2009, its unit price was just a few U.S. cents. In just a few years, however, the value of bitcoin skyrocketed from a few dozen dollars to several hundred dollars, to thousands of dollars… Despite the ups and downs, bitcoin broke through the $10,000 mark in November.
Last week, its performance is more amazing: according to CoinDesk, at Beijing time 9 a.m. on December 8, the trading price of bitcoin reached $17117.27 (RMB 113000), up 70% a week ago. After 24 hours, however, its price fell sharply and again into a volatile state, at which it was traded at less than $15, 000.
Li Xiaolai, block chain industry investor, said recently in 2017 Shanghai iResearch Annual Summit that many people came to ask whether they should buy bitcoin. I told them now even you knew it was profitable to buy bitcoin, so, you should not buy it.
8: Social and Gaming (Arena of Valor)
We are now more efficient than ever before, and there are even some areas with “excessive efficiency”.
Instead of scarcity and inefficiency, urbanites are living in a fast-paced, impetuous and anxious life. The upgrading of tools has made it increasingly unnecessary for modern people, especially urban people, to collaborate with others, which makes people feel lonely.
Entertainment that eliminate boredom, alleviate anxiety and kill time is a key field. For this reason, over 200 million people registered Arena of Valor and every day, more than 50 million active users play this game. People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency published criticism about this game for eight times.
2017 China Mobile E-Sports Industry Report released by iResearch shows that in 2016, the value of e-sports market was 12.95 billion, with the growth rate of 148%, mainly driven by Arena of Valor. The report also suggests that Arena of Valor will continue to play a major role in 2017, pushing the market to a new high of 46.2 billion yuan. And the revenue of Arena of Valor will exceed 30 billion yuan.
As for the future, Arena of Valor has passed its peak. What Tencent has to do is how to maintain its performance.
9: Cash Loans
Qudian was listed in high-profile in late October 2017. As its founder Luo Min and investors boasted too much, the violence and “bloodiness” of cash loan were under heated discussion.
In 2017, several Internet Finance（ITFIN）platforms went public in the U.S., which exposed this huge industry that has been dormant in the gray area to the public eyes. The high interest rate of cash loans, the debt collection industry, and the money chain behind cash loans have all become the focus of market attention and controversy. The “original sin” of cash loans and the contradictions between inclusive finance and profiteering are constantly questioned. However, the regulatory policies on cash loans and Internet loans have subsequently landed rapidly and vigorously.
Due to a lack of unified supervision from the central power, some private companies operated cash loan and triggered usury, violence collection as well as lent loans to inappropriate crowd.
Regulation is always lagging behind, but the governance of cash loan has started. From licensed operation, the government regulated the Internet loans and will further focus on the source of funds.
10: Short Videos
“Short video is the next big Internet thing in content entrepreneurship.” A year ago, Toutiao CEO Zhang Yiming made such a judgment.
In past year, cyber celebrities like Papi opened up the blooming spring of the short video. E-commerce blogger Zhang Dayi, Office Xiaoye and others attracted numerous attention from users and the industry.
As a result, more and more platforms put original video advertisement as marketing focus.
One type of short videos is about emotional stories. Not until the end of the film will brand name show up, always with a one-sentence to advertising brand.
For example, the video called Tomato Scrambled Egg uses “your world is bigger than the whole world” to advertise CMBC credit card.
Someone Secretly Loves You uses “in the world, there is always someone secretly loving you” to promote medicines.
Another type is prank, spoof, or time-travel films. Also, not until the end of the film will the brand name show up.
For example, Pechoin spoofs Bao Zheng, an upright ancient Chinese official with dark skin to advertise product’s whitening properties.
The Tribute of Imperial Concubine made by Fengxingmeizhan to publicize JD.com uses the same pattern.
These advertising cases are popular because marketers understand consumer psychological state. It is not that they know what we want, but they are more willing to listen to us.
As everyone has so much to share, to be moved, to complain and to tease, there is huge potential for advertisers to dig up. The time of “emotional marketing” has come
In the End
The Internet always follows and embraces change. Even if everyone thought it was hard to have another a new unicorn, in 2017, many things appeared. They changed our life, surprised us and moved us. This is probably the “charm” of the Internet. Let’s look forward to 2018.