Drawing a powerful LINE in brand marketing

Growing globally out of its headquarters in Japan, LINE is a communication application that allows users to make free calls, send emoticons, and etc. The application is doing more than merely connecting dots. As of 2013 February, it has more than 150 million users across more than 230 countries, and its potential as a marketing and promotional tool is tremendous.



*(Above map as of Nov. 2012)

At their very first “LINE Marketing Conference LINE + YOU,” the application provider NHN Japan Corporation shared some insight proving that LINE is not only a tool for connecting individual consumers, but also a powerful marketing and promotional tool that connects consumers to brands and services. Below are some of the strengths of LINE service:

Essential app for Japanese

Out of all the LINE users in Japan, more than 50% are “Daily Active Users” (DAU). When limited to users aged 24 or younger, DAU is almost 70%. This shows that LINE is a must-need communication infrastructure for many of the users in Japan.

Financial success of LINE

Although it’s free to use, LINE is also revenue generating for the provider. It is famously known for earning 350 million JPY in two months since its first launch of paid emoticons.The app’s profitability is not an indication of benefit to marketers; however, it is a reflection of its general rising popularity and a sign of potential stability.

While another successful mobile messaging application WeChat offers similar features (emoticons, gaming, free calling and etc) and profits on similar terms — LINE’s biggest strength lies in its ability to drive consumers to stores through sponsored coupons. At the “LINE Marketing Conference LINE + YOU,” they shared that 31.7% of LINE users use the sponsored coupons that the brand has issued on LINE, and 6.5% has visited the brand’s store more frequently.

Given such difference, it seems that LINE is positioning not only as a “lifestyle” tool among consumers, it is also building its base as a proper marketing tool for brands. On the other hand, WeChat is keeping its services free to consumers and brands. Looking at WeChat’s user base in China (above 200 million), and its expansion in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, the application appears to be focusing efforts on acquiring more users.

WeChat and LINE each poses different opportunities for marketers. The larger WeChat dominates Chinese language demographics, while LINE excels in Japan. Both are aggressively expanding into Southeast Asia and abroad. Both are worth our attention.