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KakaoTalk Records 288% Indonesian User Growth and Looks to Embrace Local Communities

KakaoTalk team Mediaday

From the left – Joshua Kevin (community manager for Indonesia), Jude Lee (global marketing manager), Yujin Sohn (global business development VP), Sean Kim (global business development), and Susie Lee (global business development)

Today, Korea-based messaging app KakaoTalk held a press conference event called “Media Play Day.” Besides the usual information load during events like these, the messaging company also held two mini competitions which awarded a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini to each of the grand winners 1. During that event, together with DailySocial we also talked with global business development VP of KakaoTalk Yujin Sohn about the company’s progress and plans in Indonesia.

Besides Japan and Vietnam, Indonesia is also targeted in KakaoTalk’s expansion plan. Between January and February, the company recorded a staggering 288 percent growth in users for Indonesia. KakaoTalk also partnered with two Indonesian companies, Pizza Hut Delivery and Groupon as the country’s first brand partners for its ‘Plus Friends’ feature. The company also embraced numerous Indonesian celebrities and artists like Saykoji and street artist Popo in designing local stickers.

Yujin explained to us that there are two reasons why they chose Indonesia as the second target market for expansion. First, from the macro-economic perspective, Indonesians are adopting smartphones in a big way. I think this is particularly true, especially when looking at the increasing number of affordable Android smartphones here. Second, Yujin explained, is the nature of Indonesians who are very chatty and social. Combine these two and Indonesia sure looks like a very nice market.

Grassroot users comes first

But there are other messaging apps which are also looking to tap into the market here, namely WeChat and Line. The latter app in particular, is quite aggressive in marketing its app through TV ads campaign and has the advantage of being the first mover here. The latest report from Arbitron Mobile said that Indonesia’s number one VoIP app is Line. So how does KakaoTalk plan to beat the competition here?

KakaoTalk representative Susie Lee said that they have big marketing plans for Indonesia, but one of the first things they plan to do is embrace the grass root users first by approaching local communities and developers. They are open to launching their own TV ads campaign in the future.

Regarding the app’s own strengths, Yujin believes that KakaoTalk’s exclusive features like unlimited group chat, its strong Korean taste (which is very popular here in Indonesia), and localized features can prove to be the difference. Furthermore, they are branding themselves as a fun entity. This is done through events like today’s semi-formal press conference and mini games. That might also be helpful to convince a few more users to start using KakaoTalk.

More local taste please!

Indonesia has a different infrastructure compared to South Korea such as internet speed and smartphone penetration – so how does KakaoTalk plan to approach this challenge? Yujin explained that besides making the chat app available on affordable packages by working with local telcos, the company has compressed its stickers and animations here so that it can cope well with the country’s internet speed. They are also planning to work with Indonesian developers soon to work on future KakaoTalk game titles.

Bad news for Indonesia’s Blackberry users, who are the majority of the smartphone market in the country, is that KakaoTalk won’t be updating its app with significant new features anytime soon – like free calls – due to the ageing hardware’s limitations. But the team is in talks with Blackberry regarding building for the new Blackberry 10 platform.

At the moment, KakaoTalk is cooperating with Indonesian telco XL Axiata to hold the first Anipang game competition outside Korea. The competition runs until March 3rd and it promises prizes in the form of gadgets. Starting this month, KakaoTalk has also partnered with XL Axiata for carrier billing.

You can check for further information regarding the Anipang competition here.

The interview with Yujin Sohn was conducted together with DailySocial.


  1. Nope, I got beaten by two girls at a game of Anipang and making small stories with Kakao stickers.



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