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The Rise of Asia’s Mobile Messengers Discover how to connect with the new connected consumer

Alice Hu @alicehu Manager, Social & Digital MSLGROUP Asia

Table of Contents Why should CMOS CARE ABOUT MOBILE MESSENGERS? What do you need to know about mobile messengers? What does it mean for brands? Key Takeaways Future of Mobile Messengers



Mobile messenger apps such as WhatsApp and LINE are projected to account for 75 percent of all mobile messaging traffic, ahead of SMS or mobile email in 2018. We need information now, fast and designed for mobile.

Source: Statista

What are mobile messengers? In the simplest sense, mobile messengers are text and voice messaging smartphone applications. But within the last few years, various messengers have evolved to include more capabilities. WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are some of the fastest growing mobile messengers. The recent explosion of mobile messengers shows that these platforms have become the de facto tools for the socially connected consumer. They allow the user to express themselves in more ways, such as sending photos, stickers, videos, voice messages, locations and making calls. Sometimes all you need to express yourself is a goofy smiley face. With some applications including mobile payments and commerce capabilities, mobile messengers will change how we go about or daily lives, not just how we communicate.



Over 40 percent of the world’s Internet users live in Asia. They are socially connected consumers, accessing Internet via mobile. it is no surprise mobile messengers are already the most popular social networks in many Asian Countries. MOBILE MESSENGERS ARE THE new way to connect

Source: Statista


How will your brand stay relevant with the evolving connected consumer? By Understanding mobile messengers now

What are mobile messengers?

WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are Replacing many of the applications we use daily with one that houses everything. These platforms are where people go to pay bills, book taxis, catch-up with friends, create multimedia content, buy things, and much more.



What are mobile messengers? Asia’s Mobile Messengers Are from‌.





Comparing Mobile Messengers WhatsApp


500M Monthly Active Users

355M Monthly Active Users



175M Monthly Active Users

140M Registered Users*

* Monthly Active Users: Number of people using the platform each month. KakaoTalk has not provided these numbers.

Comparing Mobile Messengers

How do WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk stack up amongst each other?


Comparing Mobile Messengers

Each has their own special point of differentiation


Comparing Mobile Messengers

WeChat wins at mobile payments and commerce Line leads in games and overall international users KakaoTalk wins in content; users love access to K-pop celebrities



WeChat WeChat or Weixin (微信) mobile messenger is arguably China’s most popular social network. it is quickly being adopted in other Asian countries. Global Footprint

Company Information

Parent Company Tencent is China's largest and most used Internet service portal.




Coolest Feature

600M Registered Users

Mobile payments & commerce

355M Monthl y Active Users


International users

Largest WeChat User Base China Next Largest User Base Indonesia





Line launched as a response to the 2011 Japan earthquake. Its Internet-based mobile messenger platform enabled people to connect and mobilize quickly though national telecommunication infrastructure was damaged. Global Footprint

Company Information

Parent Company Naver leads the korean internet industry. Line Corporation, a Naver spinoff, operates line in japan.

85% 2011 Established

International users

Largest Line User Base

users 370M Registered Users 175 Monthly Active Users

Coolest Feature


Customized Stickers & Games

Next Largest User Base Thailand



KakaoTalk KakaoTalk is on more than 90 percent of smartphones used in Korea and is by far the most popular mobile messenger & social networking platform there. Global Footprint

Company Information

Parent Company Kakao has the most popular mobile messaging and gaming service in south korea.

users 140M Registered Users N/A Monthly Active Users


40% 2010

International users

Largest KakaoTalk User Base

Coolest Feature South Korea

Group chat features

Next Largest User Base Philippines



Features to Watch?

Mobile payments and commerce

Customized Stickers and Games

Group chat features

WeChat Mobile Payments WeChat has a variety of mobile payment options for Chinese users to make their onthe-go lives easier. From booking and paying for taxis in-app to splitting a meal with friends, WeChat has evolved from a social, chat-based mobile messenger platform into powerful multifunctional one.

• • • • • • • •

Purchase more cellphone credits Shopping Purchase Movie Tickets Manage Finances Purchase QQ* Virtual Currency Book and Pay for a Taxi Send a Chinese New Year “Red Envelope” Request and Track Payments from friends


WeChat “Red Envelopes” During Chinese New Year, red envelopes containing money are given out to family and friends. For the first time, these red envelopes were digitized by WeChat for Chinese New Year 2014. More than 40 million red envelopes were sent, totaling an approximate value of 400M RMB ($65.5M USD). Users can choose to gift money to individuals or to send a lump sum to a group of friends who then “ draw” for money. WeChat randomly selects how much money is won by participants. For example, you send $100 dollars to 6 friends. Some may draw $5 while others may receive $25. It all depends on luck. But before you give and receive money, you must link your bank card to WeChat. By having users link their bank cards, WeChat now has a base of users who can use mobile payments and has increased potential users of this mobile messenger feature by millions.


Line Stickers and Games 20 percent of Line’s revenues come from sticker sales (2013) 60 percent of Line’s revenues are from games (2013) Line’s popularity quickly spread in Japan and Asia after its launch in 2011, in part because of the expressive stickers. Now there are over 1 billion stickers sent every day via Line. Key sticker characters Brown the bear and Cony the rabbit have entered mainstream culture and the real world via plush stuffed animals and other paraphernalia. Line even opened a theme park in Taiwan in February 2014. Brands, celebrities and organizations can open official accounts on the mobile messenger and share customized stickers with fans to increase engagement and brand affinity. Line mobile messenger users can download Hello Kitty, Disney, Real Madrid and many more stickers to express their moods in chats.



KakaoTalk Group Features Korean celebrities and games have attracted most of South Korea to the mobile messenger app. KakaoTalk is different from WeChat and Line in that it has more group chat features.

Group Calls: Up to 5 people can chat on a group call

Voice filters: Talking Tom and Talking Ben voice filters

Vote: Not sure what to do with friends? Take a vote!

Scheduling: Use the schedule feature to find a time to meet-up with friends


Who is using mobile messengers?


children to grandparents Rural to urban Blue to white collar Beijing to Sao Paolo


Becoming the most popular social network within Asia and gaining traction around the world, especially with developing countries


We used jana to ask about Whatsapp, WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk in some of these countries‌


Philippines People are using the most mobile messengers (on average 3 different platforms)


VIETNAM WeChat, Line and Kakaotalk are more popular than Whatsapp, but there is no clear winner

Whatsapp is the most popular, but wechat and line are gaining users

Nigeria WeChat is the second most popular mobile messenger in Nigeria

highest in mobile commerce and mobile payments usage

All 4 mobile messengers are being used in countries surveyed* *Real-time mobile surveys conducted via Jana.


Are consumers willing to engage with brands via mobile messenger?


From our real-time Jana mobile surveys, the answer was a resounding YES.













Celebrities are helping mobile messengers expand internationally

Lionel Messi WeChat partnered with Lionel Messi in July 2013 to attract international users. This campaign launched in 15 countries.

Real Madrid & Barcelona Football Teams Real Madrid and Barcelona have official accounts to interact with fans, share real-time news and customized stickers. They have attracted over 9 million and 3 million fans respectively.

K-pop Stars and Celebrities There are over 400 brands, businesses, celebrities, artists and media connecting with the 140 million user base.



So what does this mean for brands?



Relevant CONTENT

To even receive messages from brands, users need to actively search for them and opt in to start the conversation. Users are in control, but brands benefit. Users who opt in truly want to receive information from

With these platforms exploring varying mobile payments and commerce integration, brands are able to make it easier for consumers to purchase.

Content matter more than ever. Mobile messengers are a more intimate medium. Users are on-the-go and expect information shared to reflect that. Messages are pushed to the user –the fastest way to communicate is via mobile messenger.




Key Takeaways

M-commerce & CRM

Expect more m-commerce and mobile payment options across all platforms in 2014. With all platforms adding more mcommerce capabilities , there will be more opportunities for the integration of social, mobile and commerce. CRM from the mobile messenger can be linked to a company’s bigger system to provide even more insights such as real-time sales data.

Relevant engagement

In China, brands can customize official accounts to create special tabs on WeChat. Plus Friends was introduced as an advertising platform with less emphasis on engagement, but it is very possible it will be a much more dynamic platform to communicate with fans who are more heavily engaged with the brand because they choose to receive notifications via KakaoTalk.

Diversification & integration In China, Japan and South Korea, it is obvious that WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk lead in their home turfs, but when we look to other Asian countries, it’s not so clear cut. As these mobile apps battle it out for the number one spot, brands may need to have a WeChat and Line strategy for the same market. From an Asia perspective, having one WeChat strategy for all of Asia will be impossible because official account functions and features vary across the region.

Best Practices

How do I know which one to use? Some brands may find that they need to use multiple platforms in one market and all three across Asia. Target audience, objectives and capabilities will determine which ones need to be put in play. Some functions and features aren’t available on some apps. For example, WeChat currently does not offer customized brand stickers.


How will my strategy differ from platform to platform? Strategy will differ from app to app within a market There’s a reason whytoeach app for hasan found strong a and also from market market app.aThere’s following niches and countries. at reason why with eachvarious app is popular in its own rightLook and has these differences be aware of platform changes found a strongand following in various niches and to adjustdifferences strategy. and keep abreast countries. Look at these on changes to adjust strategy. What will remain the Mobile messengers facilitate an messengers intimate dialogue same is remembering that mobile are the between brands and consumers. genuine to add most intimate dialogue you willBe have with your audience. Be personablevalue! and strategic about what you share. Share mobile-friendly content.


Global Implications


WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are expanding within Asia and around the world. Line already has 16 million users in Spain and just started its first French partnership with My Little Paris. It has also started advertising in the US. WeChat has recently created a buzz with its new South Africa TV advertisement and radio personality partnership. After Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, mobile messengers across the board saw surges in users. Maybe we’ll see WhatsApp growth slow as other platforms increase in popularity.

Cross Pollination

When Facebook introduced stickers in July 2013, mobile messengers already had them for years and had been monetizing from them. We may see other social networks integrate mobile messenger features before these apps gain more international traction. For now they are incubators of how to connect with the new generation mobile connected consumers who are mobile first.

Mobile First

Platforms made for mobile are growing in users. Just look at Instagram and Snapchat. We already see many teens leaving Facebook, choosing more private communities such as Kik. There is an opportunity to engage more users in real-time in more relevant ways by interacting with them via mobile. To see mobile, social, digital can be used to drive sales, awareness and provide valuable customer information.


How will mobile messengers evolve?


Mobile Messengers as Content Creators and Publishers Mobile messengers have highly active users. They currently enable users to create their own multimedia content (photos and videos) to share with their network and consume content from official accounts. With so many users creating and digesting information, there is a big opportunity for content creation and publication. Mobile messengers are doing this by giving individuals and businesses the tools to create, build and share more on their platforms. Tencent, WeChat parent company, launched Fengling, a WeChat-based mobile website creation tool for mobile marketing in December 2013. Over 80,000 websites have been created.

“ KakaoPage is an open market where any individual can upload and sell their own content.� Individuals or a publishing companies can distribute content through KakaoPage.

Line Manga gives users access to 30,000 comics and lets them share with friends. Currently only offered in Japan, but has the potential to expand to other types of content and countries.

One of Line’s automated accounts, the EnglishSpanish translator, translates in real-time.

Kakao announced in January 2014, it plans to launch a news content service in spring 2014.


MSLGROUP is‌ +Building new online communities on mobile messengers. +creating, Sharing content that matters most to users. when they want it, how they want it. +Developing social CRM solutions. We know how to Engage with the new social consumer.

Connect with us to learn more Alice hu | | @alicehu | |


About the Author Alice brings with her marketing communications experience with a focus on social media and digital to MSLGROUP Asia. A native of the Washington, D.C. area, she has worked in China for four years and speaks fluent English and Mandarin Chinese. For two of those years she also managed Shanghai Daily Secret, an email newsletter dedicated to sharing local insights about bars, restaurants and shops. Daily Secret is the fastest digital media for young professionals around the world.

Insert alice’s bio

At MSLGROUP, Alice works to build social and digital capabilities across Asia and consults on key regional accounts. In her previous role, she created the online distribution department at Hilton Shanghai where she developed the hotel’s digital strategy and managed online travel agency relationships. Outside of work, Alice is figuring out how to master the chaturanga yoga pose, creating healthy food that is still deliciously satisfying and planning her next travel adventure that will let her indulge in food and the great outdoors.

Alice Hu @alicehu Manager, Social & Digital MSLGROUP Asia




Comparing Mobile Messengers Features Messaging Group Chats Photo Albums Voice Calls Video Call Voice Notes Location Sharing Timeline Polls Schedule Events Stickers Read Receipts Send Gifts to Friends Short Video Creation Private Timeline with Friend(s) Desktop Accessible Browser Accessible Mobile Commerce Mobile Banking Games Brand Account Function

Whatsapp x x

WeChat x x

x (soon)

x (walkie talkie) x x x x

x x

x x x x

x x x x x

Line x x x x x x x x

x x

KakaoTalk x x x x x x x x x x x x

x x (notes) x

x x



x x

x x

The Rise of Asia's Mobile Messengers  

Did you know that mobile messenger apps such as WhatsApp & LINE are projected to account for 75 percent of all mobile messaging traffic, ahe...

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