China ELT Industry Spikes to $1 Billion by 2020

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China is the Largest Digital English Language Learning Buying Country in the World According to a New Ambient Insight Report

The aggregate growth rate for digital English language learning products across six buying segments in China is a modest 2.8%. A market with high revenues remains lucrative even with a modest growth rate. Revenues reached $938.6 million in 2015 and will climb to $1.0 billion by 2020, according to a new report by Ambient Insight called "The 2015-2020 China Digital English Language Learning Market."

"Growth has slowed slightly over the last few years due to significant commoditization pressures, the fragmentation of the supply chain, and government pricing controls in the schools," comments Chief Researcher, Sam S. Adkins. "This has not had much impact on the market yet. Suppliers continue to bring products and services to the market at a rapid pace. Established traditional language education providers are launching new online businesses and startups are proliferating. Large amounts of private equity are flowing to digital English language learning startups in China."

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There are two sections in this report: a demand-side analysis and a supply-side analysis. Additionally, there is an index of suppliers competing in the region. The demand-side analysis for China is broken out by six buying segments: consumers, federal government agencies, PreK-12 school systems, provincial and municipal government agencies, higher education institutions, and corporations & businesses.

The government-operated PreK-12 segment was the largest buyer in the 2015 market, but consumers will be outspending the PreK-12 segment by 2020. The consumer segment has the highest growth rate in the country at 8.2%.

The demand-side analysis includes a revenue breakout for consumers and for the PreK-12 segment by age cohorts. Products for young children are popular in China. Parents and the schools now purchase a significant amount of digital English language learning for children under 17 years old.

"There are several convergent catalysts driving the market for digital English in China," explains Adkins. "There is a booming online tutoring industry and the majority of that tutoring is for English. Other catalysts include a dramatic increase in private investment going to online English education suppliers, an emphasis on English in the schools, the growing use of English in higher education, a strong consumer demand for mobile English learning apps and edugames, and a high demand for specialized types of English including business, academic, aviation, and hospitality English."

The supply-side analysis breaks out revenues for five learning technology types: retail packaged Self-paced eLearning (off-the-shelf courseware), Collaboration-based Learning (live online classes and live online tutoring), Digital Reference-ware (eTextbooks, ePhrasebooks, test prep, digital video, audiobooks, and digital translation dictionaries), Mobile Learning apps, and Mobile Learning VAS.

"Three of the five digital English language learning products in China have negative-to-flat growth rates," says Adkins. "This is largely a product substitution trend with buyers opting for mobile products. The growth rates for self-paced and collaboration based products are negative-to-flat at -1.7% and -1.1%, respectively. Digital Reference-ware for English has the lowest growth rate at -4.2% being driven down by government-controlled pricing policies for education content purchased by both private and public schools.

Over 180 suppliers operating in China are cited in this report to help international suppliers identify local partners, distributors, resellers, and potential merger and acquisition (M&A) targets.

"Ambient Insight expends a great deal of effort to identify domestic and international suppliers operating in China, the buying segments they serve, the type of digital products they develop, and the prices they charge for their products," adds Adkins. "This provides actionable data for suppliers that intend to enter market on potential partners and gives them a good idea of the prices that the market will bear in specific segments."

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Sam Adkins
Ambient Insight LLC
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