Asia’s two premier instant messaging applications, both of which come intertwined with numerous social networking features, have their eyes set on the European market.
China’s WeChat, with roughly 500 million registered users, 100 million of which are outside of China, has made clear its plans to launch in France by the end of the year.
Japan’s Line application, meanwhile, boasts 230 million users worldwide, and is also set to a launch a French version of its application by the end of the year, with an Italian one in the pipeline. Surprisingly, Line has already succeeded in tapping into certain Europe markets, particularly in Spain where it already counts some 15 million users.
Determined to succeed, both companies have adopted strong, and hugely expensive, localisation and marketing strategies. Aside from translating their respective applications, both Line and WeChat have forged heavyweight sponsorship partnerships.
Line has teamed up with Spanish football clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal and Coca-Cola. WeChat, meanwhile, have made Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi and Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James the faces of their brand.
What’s clear is that WeChat and Line are pursuing aggressive marketing and localisation plans that will surely make waves in Europe and North and South America.
However, there is also a great impetus for companies brands to sign up to such applications.
Unlike more familiar messaging applications in the West, such as WhatsApp and Viber, Asian counterparts have implemented much more of a social network feel to the applications, combining free calls and messages with in-app games, flash reports for news and events from branded contacts and the ability to send animated stickers to friends.
For brands, this offers an innovative new way of marketing personal messages to potential fans’ and customers’ handheld devices, especially those in the Far East, and in future potentially far beyond there.
One innovative marketing example designed by WeChat is for companies to harness the geolocalisation features in the application and target Chinese users on holiday, send them promotions and attract them into their shops.
It’s an interesting example of how, in a world dominated by ever more personalised technology and increasing access to social media, the benefits of global marketing and localisation are becoming ever more apparent.
Western brands should be encouraged to embrace these new phenomena, given the scope and market potential of many of the world’s up and coming economies.
Today Translations is a London-based translation, localisation and cultural consulting company, specialised in helping brands explore business opportunities in new markets. Our team of experts can help your business harness the power of technology to attract a new audience and client base.
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