chinese digital marketing

WeChat Mini Programs Vs Apps

WeChat Mini Programs Vs Apps: What would you rather build?

WeChat Mini Programs and Apps are basically cousins that haven’t met each other but share a few features (technically speaking), but live in different countries! The Chinese cousin lives within a joint ecosystem while the native app lives independently and functions according to its own liking. Now that the tech geeks are grinning at their screen, its time to cut to the chase.

WeChat Mini-programs are basically mini-apps within a larger application and function like independent apps that run within the system. Mini-programs are advantageous to developers, while native apps require both the iOS and Android versions, as well as testing, but mini-programs do not. A mini-program also takes half the time needed to develop an app, saving both time and money.

User Experience

An app for the west may have its own benefits but nothing beats the customization of an app for a specific group of people. Imagine having an eco-system of apps specifically designed for the Russians! That’s the power of mini-programs. An app’s UX (User experience) differs from app to app but a mini-program’s User experience is standard and loads faster. The mini-program can also work simultaneously with other WeChat functions allowing users to check their WeChat messages without having to retrieve the mini-program page.

Types Of Apps

An App functions independently and does his own thing in another country remember? There are apps for anything and everything! All you need to do is go to your Google play store or the apple store and download an app for your specific requirement, be it music, sports, diet, shopping or even health

Types of Mini-programs

A mini-program lets you take test drives with Tesla and this gives you a gist of how advanced the feature is! Mini-programs are designed to serve a wide range of services and industries but through a more interactive front. The most downloaded mini-programs by category are mini-games, followed by lifestyle mini apps, Blog/News and e-commerce mini-programs. Many mini-apps let you book hotels, cab rides, doctor appointments and access a host of other services.

O2O Marketing Quotient

How Exactly Do Apps Fit Into The O2O Marketing Structure?

You can’t do without apps like Uber today and that is your cue to how apps shape the O2O marketing structure. You book an uber through the app and that helps you reach a certain destination in the physical world. Apps like Uber, Groupon, Alibaba’s Hema etc. engage you virtually (Online) and transport you offline for the final checkout (Although it differs from app to app). In our previous blog, we spoke about O2O marketing and the way it’s making waves in China at the moment.

What About Mini-programs?

If apps are a gateway to O2O marketing, then a mini-program is the Godfather of this marketing trend. Mini-program is the cousin that lives with the joint family remember? Mini-programs fuse the online to offline teleportation, connecting their users to physical stores, events, pop-ups etc.

Mini-programs are setting the O2O marketing trend because they have a more streamlined eco-system with WeChat where they’re assured of users engaging with the feature because of WeChat’s mainstream presence as an entity.

If I Were A Brand Expanding My Retail Business Overseas, What Would I Choose?

I’d choose an app if I had to reach out to a set of people with a single objective. If I want to expand my business, broaden my horizons and push my app boundaries, I’d choose mini-programs. They are the Alpha and the Omega of market mobilization among the Chinese, limited to China of course. If I look at China as a potential market for my business expansion, then I’d look no further than mini-programs to support my marketing strategy. I’d choose a combination of Apps and mini-programs to co-exist in both the western as well as the Chinese world for maximum results.


Mini-programs are a strange ambivalent piece of technology but their ability to convert from WeChat content to e-commerce makes them a powerful tool. We don’t deny the fact that they have their own shortcomings like not being accessible through the web browser. Apps have their advantage on that front but then they’re all too scattered at the same time. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution to engage your customers, but there could be a combination of multiple solutions worldwide available at your disposal.

What would you Choose? An App Or A Mini-Program?

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