A Cup of Coffee with that Internet?

By Gordon Chu | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

With nearly 300 million Internet users according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China now eclipses even the United States with the most Internet users in the world. To put things into perspective, China alone, comprises nearly 20% of the world’s population of Internet users. Their growth rate grew over 1200% from 2000 – 2008 making China one of the fastest adopters of technology in the world. And the scary part of these figures? We’ve only seen the beginning – China still has only penetrated under 25% of its population with Internet access (versus nearly 80% of Americans are Internet users).

So, I ask – how do we reach this massive sea of Internet users. What Internet marketing arsenal can we pull out of our toolbox? Key word search? Nah – that would be too obvious. Social networking communities? Sure – that could work, but prepare to take a number in line when looking to partner with one of the big Chinese social-networks. Here’s a hint – think outside of the Internet “cloud”. Instead of investing your efforts in China’s digital realm, go around the corner and experience first-hand the droves of people crammed into a single room with 100 purring PCs. Welcome to the world of Internet Cafés.

Unassuming from the outside and certainly nothing out of the ordinary when you walk in, the phenomenon of Internet Cafés is like no other when compared to the rest of the world. Everyone is sitting in front of a PC either playing an online game or chatting. Nothing different, right? The hours pass and some of the kids decide to take a break from the World of Warcraft and go watch ABC’s Lost instead. Others decide its time for food and grab a bowl of beef noodles. And still others decide they’d like to go a round of karaoke with their best rendition of Christina Aguilera. Still no big ‘a-ha’ moment? Let me say that ALL of these activities are happening still in that one crammed room with 100 purring PCs. All the convenience for you and your friends under one roof. In fact, a lot of the Internet Cafés have nice plush couches for sleeping and showers to freshen up if the person wants – making the Internet Café the home-away-from-home for many.