Why Online Education Has a Great Future in China?

Though it is widely known that education is an important part of Chinese society, such a success for the online education market wasn’t expected. Even if China usually tends to prefer traditional institutions, many things have changed since its economic boom. They modernized many things, education included. So online education started to get really popular in 2008 and had since more than tripled its shares. Even some big companies (such as Baidu) and famous offline education institutions took advantage of this emerging and prospective market, whether they are Chinese or foreign. This trend can be useful for the whole population. More and more businesses even provide it to their employees in order to upgrade their skills.

The market size of online education in China from 2012 to 2018 with estimates until 2020 — Data from Statista

According to Statista, the revenue generated by online education in China in 2019 reached 272.7 billion yuan. By 2020, China’s online education market was expected to reach 315 billion yuan.

China’s online education market has maintained steady growth in the past five years. The online education market in first- and second-tier cities has gradually matured, while the market in third- and fourth-tier cities are still in development. With the increasing emphasis on education, the sinking market has great potential for development.

Read our China Education Market Guide

“COVID-19” boosts China’s online education

Under the “COVID-19” epidemic, the Ministry of Education issued a notice on January 27, requesting that the start of school be postponed to the spring of 2020, and students should stay at home.

Offline courses from various institutions have been canceled, and online education institutions have provided free online courses to Chinese students to ensure that students and their parents successfully implement the “stop of classes without suspension” during the epidemic.

Take the example of DingTalk, an intelligent working platform developed by Alibaba, it was widely used by schools and students, with 1.1 billion installations in China during this epidemic period.

China’s online education is growing

But as Chinese parents are rather pushy and have high expectations toward their children’s academic achievement, online education became the newest trend for “Tiger parents”. Children’s education unsurprisingly became the most active section in China’s online education market, counting for 20.8% of the total market. As the younger parents (80s and 90s) have stronger education consciousness and higher consumption capability, and with the development of the Internet, their children are more familiar with online education.

Moreover, the two-child policy produced China’s demographic dividend, so the market share of K12 online education is expected to reach approximately 28% of the total market by the end of 2022.

In terms of K12 online education in China, parents are very fond of foreign teachers, especially for language education. Thus, the sector can be very lucrative by knowing how to use the right tools in the Chinese market.


The online education industry in China is growing

The Chinese online education industry had known huge growth in the past few years, but it is not ready to stop yet. Analysts predicted many opportunities to come as investments in the sector are so big. China definitely has the potential to become the liveliest market for online education.

Several factors are encouraging the growth of online learning in china:

  • The rising Chinese spending power
  • The two-child policy
  • The undersupply of education resources

Those encouraging facts make specialists contribute to China’s online education growth.

Nowadays, the most active mobile app for online education is VIPKID, which connects K12 students with teachers in the United States and Canada. This platform enables students to receive 25-minute English language lessons from fluent English-speaking teachers through a video chat platform.

Society’s Pressure for education

Of course, education is an important factor in every culture. But in Chinese society, it also has a cultural meaning. As they measure success accordingly to achievements rather than on more biased points, the pressure is really high.

Competition starts at the youngest age and getting good grades is not only a way to make sure to have a bright future, but it’s especially a requirement to prove to others that you are not a failure.

The concept of “DiuLian”(losing face) is one of the biggest concepts in Chinese culture. If a kid has bad grades, he will lose face, and also humiliates his parents, which will be seen as “not good enough”. It’s not unusual for parents to spend more than a third of their revenue on their children’s education. The social pressure is really high and competition is fierce for children as well as for parents.

Competition among peers in China

Moreover, because by 2030, almost 200 million graduates are expected to enter the job market, Chinese students need to stack all the odds in their favor as soon as possible. They have to be already ready for the future and jobs that might not exist yet.

The new generation of parents is also more aware of the technological advances and the emergence of the middle class as well as the general modernization and digitalization of China can easily explain the success of online education.

The government also invested more and more money in this market, but also supported and created new laws and policies about private education, which all help this field be really prosperous. Another reason would be their interest in classes that are not taught in China, or by Chinese. But they also like to be able to study when they wish to, as they usually have a really busy schedule.

Opportunities for online education

So this is a very promising and vibrant market in China that will only grow bigger in the years to come. Opportunities will be numerous and allow targeting millions of Chinese! Whether they are university students, businessmen, children, or just people wanting to improve their skills.

Especially in fields like science, technology, and the English language. They are the most profitable markets as those skills will be required of the students when they will search for a job. As a foreign online education company, the market isn’t too hard to enter.

To succeed in China, Online Schools need Credibility

Chinese need trust in a brand, especially when they spend a good amount of money on it. Also, education is such a serious issue for them, it can be seen as a real investment, so having a proper image is truly needed to have customers.

Chinese parents are ready to pay for famous High-end Schools, but no Chinese parents want to invest in a new School, without a reputation.

Chinese digital marketing promotes your reputation

There are many competitors so a deep study of the market is needed. Alliances and partnerships with local companies can be a great way to enter the market quickly and benefit from their image so customers will trust you more easily.

However, this is not enough to be successful, you should market and advertise your company by using Chinese digital marketing. As the network is really different, it is advised to call on a specialized agency for help, to make sure to have an efficient entry.

Need Help with promoting your online education school in china?

gma agency

If you are looking for a quality agency, GMA is an agency established in Shanghai with a deep knowledge of China. For more information, please visit our agency website.

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  • Hello Marketing to China
    I am teaching English online. I am looking to promote my website online to Chinese students
    Can you help me with small budget ?

    • Olivier

      Of course, we can help you.
      With Small budget, we can do SEO and ereputation. It can help you at early stage of your Development in China.

  • Richard Karbowski

    Is there any problem with students who take out loans paying them back to whatever school they’re enrolled in? We had a famous case, here in the US, when Donald Trump had a real estate school and many of the students couldn’t afford the cost, because they were overly expensive and they didn’t get any real instruction, according to what the school promised them. Some of the students even sued him to get back the costs that they paid to the school by going into a court of law.
    Also, do schools like the Learning Outcome Trees in China do a good job promising to offer the education online that they actually say they will? There’s some discussion about their organization offering a chance to buy shares in the US, through a new offer called Sunlands online education group and they claim to be one of the largest providers of online education, of all varying levels, to people in China. Is that really true, or is that more of an exaggeration on their part?

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