From PC to APP, the development of internet products has always been pursuing simpler and more direct ways of interaction. “WeChat Mini Program” has emerged in line with this trend.

By 2022, the daily active users of WeChat Mini Programs had already reached 600 million. Then, in the third quarter of 2023, the quarterly transaction volume of WeChat Mini Programs exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan (195 billion euros).

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What is the WeChat Mini Program?

WeChat Mini Program is a lightweight application running on the WeChat platform. Users can directly access and use it on WeChat without downloading or installing it on their phones.

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Wechat mini program

The sunset of the Baidu Baike App, sunrise of the WeChat Mini Program

Baidu decided to shut down its Baidu Encyclopedia app on June 30, 2024, and migrate its services to the WeChat Mini Program. Baidu Encyclopedia, China’s equivalent to Wikipedia, had very few users on its app.

Chinese users nowadays prefer using search engines and accessing Baidu Encyclopedia on the web or through web pages. Transferring the app’s services to the Mini Program will save costs for Baidu.

baidu baike app is being replaced by wechat mini program

Of course, the needs and strategic developments of each industry’s businesses vary. However, Baidu’s decision to transfer part of its business to the WeChat Mini Program reflects the growing importance of Mini Programs in the Chinese market.

WeChat Mini Program vs App

If we compare Apps to brand stores, then WeChat is like a shopping mall where WeChat Mini Programs are brand stores that are displayed in shopping malls.

1. Convenience VS versatility 

WeChat Mini Programs can be instantly accessed through WeChat search or by scanning the QR code, without registration and with very fast response times. They don’t need to be downloaded or installed, saving data and memory. Apps, on the other hand, need to be downloaded and installed from the app store before use and can consume phone memory.

Apps can achieve more complete functionality. While Mini Programs may not be as comprehensive in terms of features, they are more concise and convenient.

2. Development costs

Developing a WeChat Mini Program is much simpler compared to developing an app. And it automatically adapts to all phones with a single development. Overall, the development cost is relatively low.

Apps require development for both Android and iOS versions, using different programming languages, resulting in much higher development costs.

3. User bases

Over 3.3 billion people globally own smartphones, and apps cater to the entire mobile internet user base. WeChat boasts approximately 1 billion users, making it the premier social platform in the Chinese-speaking world. WeChat apps remain primarily focused on the Chinese market.

What does the WeChat Mini Program mean for international brands?

WeChat remains an essential platform for brands aiming to enter the Chinese market. The development cost of the webpage and app may be too high for international brands who want to try their hand. WeChat Mini Programs could be a good entry point.

Case Study: ClassPass Mini-Program

When the American fitness booking platform ClassPass entered the mainland Chinese market, it launched its services on the WeChat Mini Program.

classpass's first launched Mini-program in China

Compared to the high customer acquisition costs of apps, Mini Programs have much lower costs and offer a smoother user experience. Chinese users are also more willing to try these “mini-apps” that are embedded into WeChat and require no download.


The emergence of WeChat Mini Programs provides traditional enterprises with a series of functions including, targeting, promotion, and marketing, bringing new momentum and opportunities to the enterprise. For more information about WeChat and marketing in China, don’t hesitate to contact the professional international marketing team STAiiRS for your service.