The Nation



With phenomenal growth record LINE is 'App of the Year'

Social media this year is showing strong growth in Thailand as more people are going online via their mobile phone. The Nation's Byteline picks LINE as 2013's "Application of the Year", for the great number of users, brand investment, and importantly as a mobile marketing platform.

LINE plans to bring "LINE Music", a music streaming service that will enable users to purchase music of all genres within the LINE app. It also plans "LINE Mall", an e-commerce (electronic commerce) service optimised for the smartphone with exciting LINE Games to meet Thai users' needs and enrich their experiences.

LINE Thailand has already begun the e-commerce business and gained huge success through its first high-profile flash sales sold out in 13 minutes. It is expected that LINE will focus more on the e-commerce market to leverage on its advantage of being the leading mobile platform.

Also LINE is showing solid uptrend in user numbers, and its aim is to achieve 500 million within 2014.

LINE's strategy is to provide free-of-charge messaging services. It convinces people to use the app by offering new features, including group chat, free call, video call, game, home, timeline, and stickers shop. While it is gaining significant user numbers, it also offers an "official account" to allow businesses, organisations, and celebrities to create an official account to communicate with their customers and audiences easily, directly, and instantly.

The business model of LINE is based on in-app purchase paid for by end-users (for purchasing paid stickers) and service fee that is paid by the official account's owners.

LINE is one of the crucial applications that dominates mobile Internet usage in Thailand. According to Frost & Sullivan, LINE has the most portion of total spending on apps by Thais.

The rapid growth of smartphone, with entry-level pricing at Bt3,000 up to high-end smartphones priced at over Bt20,000, and the availability of 3G services together with the lovely stickers and features that LINE creates to address customers needs are the key driving factors behind LINE's explosive growth in Thailand this year.

About 7.2 billion messages were sent per day over LINE in Thailand in 2013 and about 216 billion stickers have been sent from June 10, 2012 to October 31, 2013.

Currently, many businesses and organisations consider LINE as a necessary communication channel they have to have to get in touch with consumers, both existing and new prospects. Celebrities also have LINE Official Account as a communication channel to broadcast their updates and news announcement to their fans and audiences. The number of LINE users in Thailand has reached more than 20 million hence LINE's business partners can directly and instantly deliver their brand message to more than 20 million LINE users in Thailand in realtime.

Lee Jin Woo, general manager of LINE Plus Corporation, a joint-venture between Naver Corporation (former NHN Corporation) and LINE Corporation (former NHN Japan Corporation), newly organised in March 2013, said that LINE will continue to build strong relationships with local partners and empower them with the fun and dynamic digital marketing platform.

"Compared to other advertising tools like TV commercials, LINE's product and services such as local stickers and Official Accounts shows superior marketing power with less than 10 per cent of the normal marketing budget," said Woo.

LINE is recognised as an efficient digital marketing platform and its sales and marketing effect surpass above-the-line marketing.

LINE has been introducing numerous localised services and features for Thailand users such as the first local TV commercial series based on Thailand users' true stories, the localised stickers, and LINE Next, which is a recruitment programme for new graduates in Thailand. LINE is continuously seeking more opportunity to provide more locally tailored services/features for Thailand users.

Moreover, LINE is also considered as the most satisfying and innovative product for both users and advertisers, which practices an integrated marketing communication approach, utilising various features of the app such as Official Home, LINE Camera, LINE Play, and Free Coin.

Several successful marketing and sales cases in partnership with prominent local brands and public institutions were presented, proving LINE's excellence as a mobile platform that is beyond a simple mobile messenger, including True Move, Oishi Green Tea, Major Cineplex, and Ministry of Energy.

Supaneewan Chutrakul, senior vice president of KBANK, said that KBank Official Account on LINE plays a very important role in attracting participants to the bank's wealth management seminars.

"Working with LINE, we can develop our campaigns. During these special campaigns, we were able to increase our revenue by 15 per cent in three months. Additionally, Kbank's official LINE account can help us directly communicate with our customers and respond to any issues immediately," said Supaneewan.

Phittraporn Punyaratabandhu, vice president of Muang Thai Life said that LINE is an innovative communication tool for direct and in-depth communication as well as facilitating efficient marketing communication.

"LINE provides the best marketing and advertisement platform. LINE Official Account really helped us set the marketing strategy and objectives by listening to our customers' voices directly," said Phittraporn.

In July this year, at LINE's annual event in Tokyo, it announced the addition of three major new features to LINE app - LINE Music, LINE Mall, and video calls.

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