What does the launch of ‘Mini Programs’ mean for brands?

2017/1/17

WeChat’s just launched ‘Mini Program’ function has already sparked wide-ranging discussions across tech media, but what do we need to know and what are the implications for brands? Here’s Carat’s quick need to know guide:

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What does the launch of ‘Mini Programs’ mean for brands? What does the launch of ‘Mini Programs’ mean for brands? What does the launch of ‘Mini Programs’ mean for brands?

WHAT ARE MINI PROGRAM?

In short, a mini program or "applet" is an application which can be used within WeChat without downloading or installing. Users just need to scan the QR code, or search to open the application. Applet can be logged in using WeChat, but does not support the direct transfer from the applet to the APP.

Mini Programs have the following notable features:

  1. No need to log in
  2. Cannot push content to users
  3. Cannot be shared on WeChat Moments, but only shared to friends
  4. Does not support on-line QR code recognition, but only offline QR code

Tencent’s official statement positioned the feature as: “with mini programs, WeChat does not want enter application distribution, but to provide an open platform for quality service providers.

SO WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE FROM A USER EXPERIENCE PERSPECTIVE?

SIMPLE SERVICE

The main feature of mini program is "light" – both in terms of data usage, simplicity and speed. Users will no longer need to download the large APP’s to obtain a service, and then open the APP, endure 5-10 seconds boot screen or boot ads, and then register, bind mobile phone number, and finally enter the layers of directory to find the services they need. As a result, those low-frequency apps can simply be uninstalled, saving vital data capacity.

CONNECTED O2O

Mini Programs have been positioned that they can provide a better connection the user's offline needs and fulfillment with an online service. We can imagine such a scene: in a weekend afternoon, a couple walk by Chaoyang Park and want to enter but there’s a long queue for tickets, scanning a QR for immediate entry significantly increase the likelihood of purchase… and a better experience.  In a multitude of similar offline scenarios, mini programs could provide a convenient consumer centric solution.

WHAT MINI PROGRAMS MEAN FOR BRANDS

As Tencent and Zhang Xiaolong repeatedly stated, mini program means to offer an open platform to quality service providers." Here, the emphasis has been on "service", not "information" or "marketing."  Indeed, there is not much "marketing" capacity in mini programs, as they cannot push information, or share through WeChat Moments.

Mini program, provides a new perspective for brands to interact with consumers: how to open up new ideas to connect with consumers beyond traditional marketing considerations?  Carat believe, "service" is an integral part of “brand communication”. In today’s world where consumers are increasingly tired of invasive advertising, light marketing or even light branded "service" may help brands to build a good interactive relationship with consumers.  

Imagine a new mom scans the baby milk can through WeChat and immediately watches a short video to guide her how to prepare a bottle of baby milk. By scanning the QR code on LEGO blocks, parents can find a dynamic building guide, which lets them better play with their children and enjoy the quality time.  Or through scanning the QR code on flower’s package which you booked online you‘ll immediately get to know how to maintain and arrange this specific bouquet.  

Aren’t these kinds of communication more human, engaging, and ultimately more likely to win the hearts of consumers?

IN CONCLUSION

Carat believe that WeChat mini program provides a new perspective for brands to interact with consumers.  Mini program can better connect offline scenarios and online solutions. The "heavy service and light marketing" feature, facilitates the evolution of valuable communication with consumers through “service”, delivering a deeper level of engagement.

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