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The largest messaging app in Japan, LINE’s user trends 2020


Number of LINE users and main features

LINE is the most popular messaging app in Japan, with 83 million monthly active users as of 2019. It covers more than 65% of Japan’s total population of about 126 million people.

The main feature is a ‘WhatsApp-like’ messaging and calling function, as well as a variety of other quirky features, such as stickers that you can put on the talk screen. Popular anime shows, celebrities, and creators even sell their own paid stickers inside the app. Companies can have official accounts in LINE and some of them even sell their own stickers for campaigns.

There is also a status update feature which includes an ‘Instagram-like story’ function which young people use a lot, as well as a seamless share button, which everyone uses. 

In addition, LINE has a cashless payment feature which is called “LINE Pay”. This allows people to send money between users and make payments at shops.


Number of active users

The number of monthly active users on LINE has increased significantly from 58 million in 2015 to 83 million as of December 2019. Among them, 86% of them use LINE every day.


Demographics of active users

The percentage of male and female users is 51.8% and 48.2%.

By age group, 8.9% are aged 15 to 19, 17.8% in their 20s, 21.1% in their 30s, 22.1% in their 40s, and 30.0% in their 50s and over. This is a near-perfect percentage representation of the Japanese population overall.

While the number of users in their 50s and under hasn’t changed much since 2018, the percentage of smartphone owners in their 50s and older is on the rise. Therefore the number of users in this age group is expected to continue to grow in the future.

48.3% of users are office workers, 31.9% are housewives or part-time workers, 11.5% are students, 8.3% fall into other categories.

in Japan, LINE is not simply a tool for young people, it is used by a wide range and has become an essential support mechanism for connecting with friends, family and work colleagues.


A unique feature of LINE

There are more than 3 million LINE accounts owned by companies in Japan. If you want to set up a business account on LINE you have to fill in a registration form and submit an application. When this has been approved you can then start using it. The volume of business LINE accounts is increasing across Japan as it offers an alternative to other marketing tools, such as email newsletters. It gives companies many advantages. It’s free to use, they can send out sales vouchers to customers through the app and they can even run surveys, to name a few. Compared to email, on average it has a higher open rate and a higher click-through rate.  More reasons why LINE is used by both large and small businesses.

In 2020, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) finalised an agreement with LINE to conduct a nationwide survey on COVID-19. The official account of MHLW periodically sends out health survey questionnaires to all LINE users in Japan.

LINE is now one of the most useful brand tools in Japan. We highly recommend that you consider creating your own official LINE account when working with the Japanese market.

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