This new app to create and share family portraits is sweeping China ahead of the Lunar New Year

Amanda Lee
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This new app to create and share family portraits is sweeping China ahead of the Lunar New Year

China, which has the world’s biggest internet population, looks to be in the grip of a trendy new online app that has millions of users creating and sharing cartoon strip-like family portraits featuring their pet cats and dogs. 

Beijing-based start-up Pupupula, a lifestyle brand for children aged three to 12 and the app’s developer, launched a viral campaign called “2018 Year of the Dog family portrait” that has become popular on the mainland since its launch at the start of the year.

The link to the app has recorded about 20 million hits since the launch, with family portraits created by more than seven million users to date, according to Pupupula chief executive Sichuan Zhang.

She said Pupupula has no plans to profit directly from the design app as the campaign was meant to help promote the company’s future product launches.

By having users freely create and share family portraits using its app, Pupupula would garner not only their goodwill, but also a certain degree of loyalty when the company releases products that may have competition in a market of more than 772 million internet users as of June 30 last year. Mobile internet users accounted for 96.3 per cent of that statistic. 

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Pupupula’s strategy reflected the same sort of marketing tactic employed by larger internet companies to entice users to stay glued to their products and services even during the country’s most important holiday.

Ahead of the Lunar New Year, these companies are giving away money in the form of digital red packets to users of their apps.

China’s major internet companies, such as Tencent Holdings and South China Morning Post owner Alibaba Group Holding, are competing to envelop their users in self-contained universes where all of their needs can be met without having to leave the platform, from ordering takeaway and paying utility bills to investing in unit trusts and playing the latest online games.

Users of the Pupupula app will find the portrait’s template to include an empty room with wooden floor. Users get to choose a range of furniture, window styles, and family members to feature in a portrait along with pet cats or dogs. 

“Since it is the Year of the Dog, we thought these are great pets for kids and are part of the family,” said Zhang. “With the Spring Festival, when everyone wants to be together, we thought about including pet cats and dogs to the family portrait.” 

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She said Pupupula, which was founded in May last year, focuses on making products for children.

The company’s latest app, however, has hooked users in a way that is reminiscent to how the latest trendsetting mobile games have fared in China.

The game called Tiao yi tiao, which roughly translates to “Jump Jump”, recorded 100 million daily active users since it was introduced in late December last year through the mini-game application on Tencent’s WeChat service, marketed on the mainland as Weixin.

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Tabi Kaeru, or Travel Frog, topped the charts on Apple’s app store in China for free downloadable games.

The game, developed by Japanese firm Hit-Point, has also been a hot topic on microblog Sina Weibo where it has been viewed an estimated 400 million times.

China’s video games market was estimated to be worth US$32.5 billion last year, which helped push total global games revenue to a record US$116 billion, according to research firm Newzoo.

This article This new app to create and share family portraits is sweeping China ahead of the Lunar New Year first appeared on South China Morning Post

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