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The mindfulness economy in China and the APPs fostering inner peace in busy, white-collar workers

Meditation, a practice method derived from Buddhism, was popularized in 1960s, and has now lead to the creation of a global mindfulness economy. The wave of mindfulness culture started in 1969 when the molecular biologist Kabat-Zinn redefined American-style meditation as “Mindfulness”. Stripped of religious colors, it became a more extensive mental health therapy and began to spread to the whole world. Now, the mindfulness economy in China is on the rise among today’s daily stress and fast-paced life. In 2017, CCTV2’s Global Economic Connection column combined with Reuters news report that, ” spiritual care can also bring economic benefits.”

The technology allowing consumers to slow down: The meditation app market in China

Lin Weige, founder of the “Now Meditation” app, says that the domestic meditation market in China is still at an early stage, similar to the market situation in the United States in around 2012. Currently, 14% of the population in the United States regard meditation as a habit, but in China, this number may not exceed 1%. In the same way, the meditation app market in China started late and there are fewer mature apps, but there are a few rising apps setting the tone of the latent market potential.

Popular Chinese meditation apps

Tide (潮汐)

Tide, Chinese meditation app

Source: Appstore, Tide, Chinese meditation app

Tide is a sleep, meditation, relaxing, and focus software for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is inspired by travel, nature, and meditation. It offers a vast amount of audio material, such as natural sounds and breathing exercises in the tides, to assist users in withdrawing from the fast-paced moment and entering another calm and quiet time and room, thus minimizing anxiety and tension. Stay concentrated and relaxed, meditate for a few minutes to clear your mind, and get a better night’s sleep.

The meditation function of the tide app is mainly divided into light meditation, moments and basic meditation and series.

Light meditation

The light meditation section allows users to quickly calm their emotions through short 1-3 minutes of meditation. It is suitable for users who do not have much free time but want to relax in a short time.

 light mediation in Tide

Source: Zhihu, light mediation in Tide


The moments in Tide prevents users from being restricted by time and space. They can enter the state of meditation in different scenarios, so that meditation is no longer a difficult task.

moments in Tide

Source: Zhihu, moments in Tide

Basic meditation and series

Basic meditation is suitable for users who are new to meditation. Start practicing through the simplest and most core part of meditation and slowly enter the meditation state.

The series is suitable for more advanced meditation users. Each series has more than 5 chapters. Through the series of meditation, the body and mind can be adjusted more specifically.

basic meditation and series in Tide

Source: Zhihu, basic meditation and series in Tide

During the epidemic, Tide launched the “Facing the Epidemic” series of content to help users calm down their emotions during special times.

Special series for pandemic time

Source: Zhihu, Special series for pandemic time

It ranks 6th in Chinese app store health and fitness app rankings.

Now Mediation (Now冥想)

Now Mediation, Chinese meditation app

Source: App store, Now Mediation, Chinese meditation app

“Now Meditation” is the leading product in the field of meditation. The app aims to help users relieve anxiety and stress, manage emotions, improve sleep quality, and obtain a sense of happiness through the practice of mindfulness meditation. Since its launch in 2016, the total number of users has exceeded 4 million.

The special feature of “Now Meditation” is that it has two outstanding differences compared with mature meditation apps abroad.

The first difference of “Now Meditation” is the extra charge beyond the subscription fee. “Now Meditation” has developed training camp events like “Expanding Class” and “Mindfulness Academy,” as well as offline and live workshops. Even if you have registered as members, you must incur an additional fee to partake in these activities; moreover, the subscription fee for members is lower than that of ordinary users. In terms of payment points, the billing model remains very different from how a client of the overseas meditation app receives both services.

In terms of course content, being systematic is the selling points of “Now Meditation” training camps. Hence, it suits new meditators who are just getting started.

Paying meditation and mindfulness events in China

Source: Now Mediation, Paying meditation and mindfulness events in China

The second difference of “Now Meditation” is the combination of online apps and offline activities, which provides the possibility of social interaction and further enhances the enthusiasm of participants, which will be beneficial for the development of mindfulness economy in China.

Apart from these two apps, there are also some great Chines mediation apps like Mediation Plante are growing rapidly.

Cultural origin mindfulness trends in China

Despite being popularized in the west, mindfulness has deep roots in China. It runs through different forms of philosophy, martial arts and even calligraphy practices. So while only around 1% of Chinese claim to formally meditate, many more incorporation meditation and mindfulness into their daily lives through Taiqi and calligraphy.

Young Chinese use meditation to create inner peace in their past-paced lives

With the rapid growth of social life pressure in contemporary China, more and more Chinese people are beginning to  recognize mindfulness. The assessment of mindfulness is essentially optimistic in Chinese social media. Increasingly, more KOLs encourage people to participate in it, and find their own peace in the noisy environment.

They also share their experience and change of feelings after joining in mindfulness. In fact, there are over 10 thousand posts about mindfulness on Xiaohongshu.

Content about mindfulness economy in China

Source: Xiaohongshu Content about mindfulness in China

Mindfulness is popular on platforms dominated by young people such as Xiaohongshu and Zhihu. It meets the development needs of contemporary people and the mindfulness economy in China has high development potential in the future.

What’s more, the “Now Meditation” team found in user research that most platform users are concentrated in first-tier cities, and the user base is getting younger and younger. In the past, the user base of “Now Meditation” was mainly the post-80s and 85s. But in the past one or two years, the post-85s and post-90s have gradually grown into the largest user group, followed by the post-95s and post-00s, and finally the post-80s and 85s. Young people have a high average educational level, pay attention to self-expression, and have a high acceptance of new things.

Popularity with Chinese online mediation apps

Because of the APP users’ busy lifestyles, it is difficult to spend a lot of time on mediation, APPs create structure and a plan to follow, allowing users to budget their time and formulate a new habit. The APPs serve as a daily companion practice platform anytime, anywhere, which is also similar to online yoga apps.

In addition, the promotion of online office models caused by the COVID-19 has further accelerated the development of online meditation apps in China.

Corporations as a conduit to the mindfulness economy in China

Many foreign companies have launched mindfulness workshops for employees very early on, and now more and more companies in China have also launched similar trainings. Didi Chuxing regularly holds mindfulness workshops for staff, and they have the largest team of mindfulness instructors in China. Huawei is also introducing the guide audio of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness stress reduction course. Application of mindfulness in companies will accelerate the rate of enlarging the scale of mindfulness economy in China.

From the above characteristics, we can see that mindfulness may undergo a more large-scale and professional transformation in the future, and the scale of mindfulness economy in China will also become larger and larger.

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