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MEF Member InMobi has taken a look at the digital habits of Indonesian mobile consumers in a study that marks it out as a market with enormous potential.

In particular the study puts mobile customer acquisition and monetisation under the spotlight, sharing insights into the most popular apps and how Indonesians use them, as well as providing best practice tips for marketers and publishers.

Indonesians are highly social digitally and as such have embraced this new generation of instant messaging applications with great enthusiasm. The latest available numbers illustrate the explosive demand in Indonesia:

  • LINE has attracted 10 million users since launch in early 2013, with 25 million app downloads from the LINE suite already recorded
  • Kakao Talk added 120,000 new users per day in the second quarter of 2013
  • WeChat has grown its Indonesian user base fifty fold since their February 2013 launch

The market in Indonesia is ripe for further penetration as smartphone adoption accelerates (Indonesia, which has a population of more than 240 million, has been showing increasing interest in smartphones, with the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) predicting that the number of mobile data subscriptions in the country will more than double to 125 million in 2017, from around 60 million last year) and the middle class demographic group continues to expand. Also, for Indonesians, smartphones are less about gaming apps or streaming music and more about chatting, in all of its forms.

To better understand the growing popularity of mobile messaging apps—and help all players in the mobile ecosystem figure out how to profit from their growth—we at InMobi conducted a research project to understand the consumer behavior.

InMobi conducted this study in Indonesia to uncover trends and provide an improved understanding of consumer behavioral insights in context of mobile messaging apps to craft meaningful user acquisition and monetization strategies for app developers.

Key research findings

App Usage

  • Messaging is very big among Indonesian users. It’s engrained in their habits ever since the inception of SMS. Research shows that of all forms of communication channels available on mobile device, 39% of Indonesian mobile users prefer messaging apps as the most preferred way to communicate, bypassing even social networks (21%).
  • 97% of mobile users in Indonesia access messaging apps multiple times per day.
  • Younger mobile users under aged 35 are leading the charge toward chat apps. They are drawn to chat apps because of the cost-savings benefits they offer (vs. SMS/MMS) and for the immediate, private and fun nature of the messaging environment.

App-charts-illustration-300x300App Discovery

Browsing the app store (46%) and word of mouth (42%) are the top ways users discover apps. Mobile advertising has also emerged as an important discovery channel, with 20% of respondents reporting they discover new apps via mobile ads

App Preference

The fragmentation of social media is very much driven by the diverse needs of consumers. Our research shows that not all apps have the same appeal. Marketers need to understand the social circle with whom users communicate on each app, the need-states the app satisfies, and how those needs and usage change over time. By talking to different consumers and engaging people in a co-creation process, marketers can help drive innovation and uncover opportunities where their brand can meaningfully add value.

Propensity to Download:

63% of mobile users in Indonesia are more likely to download the messenger/chat app in the next 30 days.

The top 3 factors that influence them to download are:

  • Ability to communicate with friends – 61%
  • Ability to communicate with family – 58%
  • Ability to share photos and videos – 43%

What is interesting to note is that attributes such as the ability to play games and availability of emoticons are seen as much less important. Users value the functionality and reliability of such apps, rather than the add-on fancy features.

In-App Purchases

  • Research found that a fair share of mobile users do shell out for in-app purchases in a messaging apps—30% of respondents said they’d made an in-app purchase in a mobile messaging apps, and 14% of users have never made an in-app purchase but would consider making.
  • The optimal price point for in-app purchases in messaging apps for Indonesian users is between IDR 18241 and IDR 31207
  • Digital goods purchases (37%), Upgrading apps with additional features (36%) are the most popular types of in-app purchases done by Indonesian mobile messaging app users

Here are a few tips for marketers and publishers as an outcome of the survey.

Leverage mobile: Leverage all the available features in mobile devices like camera, location detection, sensors, which were not possible in Web to create new business opportunities. Make sure your app leverages all these features to ensure a richer user experience!

Leverage mobile messaging: 86% of respondents send or receive multiple mobile messages per day. Leverage the mobile messaging/ chat app opportunity to fill this need to communicate with consumers via mobile messages.

Focus on the right audience: 97% of respondents already use mobile messaging/ chat apps, and nearly two-thirds of them are planning to download a messaging/ chat app in the next 30 days. Understand who your target consumers are and what factors consumers find most important to messaging/ chat applications.

Design dynamic and engaging mobile experience: Mobile consumers discover messaging/ chat apps through multiple channels. Design dynamic and engaging mobile experiences that introduce consumers to messaging/ chat applications, showcase app features, and enable them to seamlessly download the app.

Generate brand awareness: Indonesian mobile consumer’s most frequent social networking and messaging and news/ weather mobile sites or applications. Generate brand awareness by targeting ads to these mobile properties and other sites they frequent.

Monetize: Once your app has reached the critical mass of users, focus your effort towards monetizing the app. Earn additional revenue by hosting ads in your app. Consider utilizing native ads that seamlessly blend into your app content. Understand what types of in-app purchases users are making and offer those that make the most sense for your app.


Time spent on messaging apps is exploding in markets, and many of the populous countries in the world have fallen prey for them. It is important for marketers and publishers involved in mobile media to understand that messaging is the audience platform of the future.

mef_global_forum_2014This article originally appeared on the InMobi blog. Download the whitepaper from the InMobi website.

For more global perspectives on mCommerce, the Apps Economy & the Consumer Experience, MEF Global Forum 2014 features international speakers discussing the key drivers of the mobile ecosystems around the world.