Three-quarters of netizens in China’s lower-tier cities are high schoolers or less educated

Internet companies have a chance to capture long-term users in these areas.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Qutoutiao jointly published a research report on internet user demographics in China’s tier-three cities and smaller towns, according to a brief report by 36Kr.

Launched in June 2016, Qutoutiao is China’s second largest news and content aggregator behind ByteDance’s Jinri Toutiao, largely by focusing on acquiring users outside of China’s metropolises and major cities.

Using Qutoutiao’s data, the report found that 77% of netizens in these areas are high school students or less educated. This may imply how internet companies can target lower-tier cities and capture large numbers of long-term customers.

Residents in China’s third-tier cities and county districts account for more than 70% of China’s population, based on analyst estimates, while China Mobile statistics show over 618 million monthly active internet devices in these areas.

The report also found that the peak usage time in China’s emerging cities is between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., slightly earlier than in first- and second-tier cities, which it attributes to a slower pace of life and shorter commute times.

In the first quarter of 2019, Qutoutiao’s monthly active users stood at 111.4 million, up 297.4% year-on-year. The company reported the figure in an otherwise disappointing quarterly earnings report, in which it announced co-founder Lei Li had resigned as CEO and would be replaced by Eric Siliang Tan, the company’s other co-founder and executive chairman.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.