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Asia leads the world for chat app use but brands need to tread carefully: TNS study

China's WeChat: world's most popular IM platform

China’s WeChat: the world’s most popular IM platform

Asia leads the world for chat app use, with Malaysians the most active instant messengers on the planet, according to a study by research firm TNS.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of Malaysian respondents in a global study of 60,000 internet users worldwide say they use instant messaging apps every day, well above the global average of 55 per cent, and 61 per cent for Asia.

Singaporeans are the second most active people on chat platforms in the world (76 per cent daily use), followed by Thais (74 per cent) and Hongkongers (73 per cent).

By contrast in the West, daily chat app use is 39 per cent in the UK and 35 per cent in the US, according to the study titled Connected Life.

Tencent’s four year-old messaging app WeChat is the world’s most popular instant messaging platform in terms of daily use (29 per cent) because of its prevalence in the biggest internet market (China).

Facebook-owned Whatsapp is second most popular globally (17 per cent use it daily), followed by Facebook Messenger (15 per cent).

Indonesia is the only market where BlackBerry Messenger is the most popular chat app.

WhatsApp:

WhatsApp: Big in India, Singapore and Malaysia

Although most messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger remain off-limits to brands for now, a number of Asia’s homegrown apps such as Line and WeChat have opened up. As long as marketers focus on earning attention rather than just buying it, IM platforms represent a huge opportunity for brands, TNS’ global director Joe Webb told Mumbrella.

“The fact that these platforms allow users to be selective is one of the reasons for their popularity. Users can select the group of people they want to communicate with, what content they want to share and as a result can expect to receive content that is more targeted,” said Webb.

“Users only share what they think each specific audience will be interested in, raising the level of relevancy of all content. The key for brands is to focus on creating this content; earning attention rather than simply paying for it,” he said.

Instant messaging app use has risen globally by 12 per cent in a year – double the rate of global social media use, according to TNS.

Instant messaging users are far active than social media users, with 61 per cent of internet users in Asia using chat apps every day, compared to 43 per cent using social networks daily.

However, while IM popularity is rising, traditional social media are still holding firm, and enable content to go viral more quickly. The challenge for brands is to create content that consumers actually want to share, the study’s authors point out.

With instant messaging brands need to be “very careful,” said Webb. “Instant messaging is a more closed medium, meaning it is essential to share limited content that is genuinely relevant and valuable.”

He added: “How to get the most out of TV used to be the biggest challenge for advertisers. Now it’s about moving from a broadcast to a content creation model that gets people talking and sharing across different platforms.”

 

Daily instant messaging app use by country

Country Daily IM use Daily social network use
Global 55% 48%
APAC 61% 43%
Australia 40% 50%
China 69% 41%
Hong Kong 73% 67%
India 38% 38%
Indonesia 48% 54%
Japan 16% 24%
Malaysia 77% 75%
New Zealand 46% 56%
Philippines 35% 28%
Singapore 76% 64%
South Korea 61% 47%
Taiwan 69% 69%
Thailand 74% 78%
Vietnam 49% 67%

 

Thailand is home to the most regular social media users in the world, with 78 per cent of respondents in TNS’ study saying they use a social network – particularly Line – every day, followed by Malaysians (75 per cent).

Facebook is the most popular social medium, with 30 per cent of global internet users saying they use it every day, followed by China’s Moments and QQ Space.

But Facebook use is far higher in Asia than anywhere else, particularly in Thailand (78 per cent say they use it daily), Taiwan (75 per cent) and Hong Kong (72 per cent).

 

Top social networks and instant messaging platforms 

Country Top 3 social networks (daily use by all internet users) Top IM platforms (daily use by all internet users) 
Global 1.    Facebook 30%

2.    Moments (WeChat) 20%

3.     QQ Space 15%

1.    WeChat 29%

2.    WhatsApp 17%

3.    Facebook Messenger 15%

APAC 1.    Moments (WeChat) 33%

2.    QQ Space 25%

3.    Facebook 16%

1.    WeChat 48%

2.    QQ 40%

3.    Facebook messenger 9%

Australia 1.    Facebook 53%

2.    Instagram 16%

3.    Twitter 11%

1.    Facebook Messenger 23%

2.    iMessage 10%

3.    Whatsapp 10%

China 1.    Moments (WeChat) 49%

2.    QQ Space 37%

3.    Weibo 21%

1.    WeChat 69%

2.    QQ 60%

3.    Sina UC 6%

Hong Kong 1.    Facebook 72%

2.    Google+25%

3.    Instagram 19%

1.     WhatsApp 81%

2.    WeChat 31%

3.    Facebook Messenger 29%

India 1.    Facebook 51%

2.    LinkedIn 3%

3.    Snapchat 1%

1.    WhatsApp 56%

2.    Facebook Messenger 28%

3.    Yahoo! Messenger 4%

Indonesia 1.    Facebook 53%

2.    Twitter 20%

3.    Google+ 18%

1.    Blackberry Messenger 64%

2.    WhatsApp 33%

3.    Facebook Messenger 18%

Japan 1.    Facebook 15%

2.    Twitter 15%

3.    Instagram 4%

1.    Line 16%

2.    Facebook Messenger 3%

3.    Skype 2%

Malaysia 1.    Facebook 73%

2.    Google+36%

3.    Instagram 25%

1.    WhatsApp 81%

2.    Facebook Messenger 41%

3.    WeChat 33%

New Zealand 1.    Facebook 59%

2.    Google+ 11%

3.    Snapchat 9%

1.    Facebook Messenger 23%

2.    WhatsApp 5%

3.    Viber 5%

Philippines 1.    Facebook 45%

2.    Google+ 14%

3.    Instagram 6%

1.    Facebook Messenger 37%

2.    Yahoo! Messenger 8%

3.    Skype 7%

Singapore 1.    Facebook 64%

2.    Instagram 25%

3.    Twitter 17%

1.    WhatsApp 79%

2.    Facebook Messenger 19%

3.    Line 14%

South Korea 1.    Facebook 33%

2.    Kakao Story 30%

3.    Kakao Group 21%

1.    Kakao Talk 73%

2.    Nateon 9%

3.    Facebook Messenger 9%

Taiwan 1.    Facebook 75%

2.    Google+22%

3.    Instagram 8%

1.    Line 76%

2.    Facebook Messenger 37%

3.    Skype 12%

Thailand 1.    Facebook 78%

2.    Instagram 20%

3.    Google+ 16%

1.    Line 79%

2.    Facebook Messenger 48%

3.    BeeTalk 3%

Vietnam 1.    Facebook 66%

2.    Google+24%

3.    Instagram 2%

1.    Facebook Messenger 48%

2.    Zalo 40%

3.    Viber 8%

 

TNS’s study emerges on the same day a global study by MTV found that Malaysians and Singaporeans are home to the most bored young people in the world. The study’s authors suggested that although young people have almost constant access to the internet through connected devices, a glut of choice may actually be fuelling boredom rather than alleviating it.

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