Everyone knows that WhatsApp is the most popular chat app in the world, with 1.6 billion users. But where is the leading chat app most relevant? Find the latest data here.
2019 marks WhatsApp’s 10th anniversary. While a decade of successful operation is a great milestone, what’s more remarkable is that WhatsApp continues to be the leading chat app globally. When combined with other Facebook family products like Facebook Messenger and Instagram, the use of WhatsApp and its “siblings” continues to grow exponentially, reaching 2.1 billion users.
With this huge user base, it makes sense that WhatsApp monetized its services by creating business solutions for enterprises of all sizes and needs. But how can marketers decide whether WhatsApp is relevant to their businesses? Is WhatsApp relevant in their countries of operation or in the countries they plan on expanding to? Let’s find out.
From the Top: Smartphone Adoption
Why start with smartphone adoption? Because just like all other messaging apps, WhatsApp is only available to people who own a smartphone. This means that to calculate WhatsApp’s real penetration, we need total smartphone stats, and from there, we can calculate WhatsApp’s penetration in that population.
As you know, smartphone adoption continues to grow globally and is expected to jump from 60 percent in 2018 to 79 percent in 2025. Of course, adoption rates vary by region, with more developed regions like Europe and North America leading smartphone penetration and developing regions and countries lagging behind.
Since messaging apps are dependent on data usage, it’s predicted that global mobile data usage will grow fivefold by 2025. Luckily for us, many mobile operators are already upgrading their network infrastructure in anticipation.
The current daily time spent using the Internet on mobile phones is already huge, by the way. According to a Global Web Index survey from 2018, daily usage jumped from 1 hour and 38 minutes to 3 hours and 6 minutes in 2018. A significant amount of our daily mobile Internet usage is, of course, spent on social media and messaging apps. As the leader in this category in over 100 countries, WhatsApp accounts for a significant portion of the time we spend on the mobile Internet.
WhatsApp Global Downloads and Usage
According to data collected in July 2019, WhatsApp with its 1.6 billion users is dominating its direct competitors and is slowly catching up with social platform industry leaders YouTube and Facebook.
Because these platforms are growing closer (for example, Click-to-Chat enables companies to link Facebook Ads to WhatsApp Business), companies active in this environment can leverage real benefits in customer engagement from discovery to service.
That’s not all. In terms of downloads, WhatsApp ranks #2 in messaging apps, above even Facebook Messenger.
Last but not least, WhatsApp continues to grow on different fronts. In India alone, WhatsApp has doubled its user base from 200 million in 2017 to 400 million this year. In terms of usage, it has steadily grown from 30 billion messages sent worldwide per day in 2015 to 65 billion in 2018. This means that WhatsApp is not only one of the most downloaded apps, but also one of the most used. For companies, this means that their customers are tuned in to every WhatsApp message that comes their way.
User Penetration Globally
WhatsApp is present in 180 countries and is the messaging app of choice in 130+ countries. In addition, it has also racked up these impressive stats:
- 1.6 billion active users
- 1 billion daily active users
- 29 million messages per minute
- 3 million WhatsApp Business users
- Support in 60 languages
In all, WhatsApp is the #1 messaging app in leading economies, both globally and regionally, including the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Let’s find out where WhatsApp is most relevant.
The Largest WhatsApp Markets
WhatsApp’s largest market is India, having recently reached 400 million monthly active users. Just two years ago, WhatsApp’s user base was half that — indicating a fantastic growth for the platform.
Interestingly, of all smartphone users in the country (about 24 percent of total mobile subscriptions), a staggering 96 percent use WhatsApp as their first-choice messaging app.
Brazil has also become a WhatsApp phenomenon, with 120 million users (56 percent penetration). What’s more remarkable is that 91 percent of Brazilian Internet users use WhatsApp and 80 percent of users check the app hourly. As residents of the largest LATAM country, Brazilians can’t live without WhatsApp, which they call Whats, Zap Zap or Zap, for short. WhatsApp has practically become a synonym of “phone number” in Brazil.
In Europe, quite a few countries favor WhatsApp with high penetration in the Netherlands (85 percent), Spain (87 percent), Italy (84 percent) and Germany (75 percent). WhatsApp is also popular in the United Kingdom, with 58 percent penetration there in 2018. Meanwhile, WhatsApp’s penetration in France is only 31 percent
Keep reading to find out data for select markets.
WhatsApp is very popular among 24- to 35-year-old Germans, with 84 percent penetration in that age range. For older folks, penetration drops to 78 percent. According to tyntec’s own research, nine out of 10 German consumers use WhatsApp (INNOFACT, May 2019).
In Germany, WhatsApp is by far the most used chat app. According to Bitkom, about 81 percent of all Germans use WhatsApp — most of them on a daily basis. Facebook Messenger is steadily catching up and has almost displaced classic platforms like Skype and Google Hangouts.
In the last two years, WhatsApp has increased its user base in the UK by 20 percent and now reaches almost 70 percent of the population. This rapid increase is particularly impressive considering the slight decline of YouTube and the minimal growth of Facebook there.
More than 54 million Spaniards (equivalent to 117 percent of the total population) have mobile phone numbers. The preferred social media of Spaniards include YouTube (89 percent) and WhatsApp (87 percent), followed by Facebook (82 percent), Instagram (54 percent) and Twitter (49 percent).
Italy had 54.8 million active users in January 2019. With a reach of 84 percent, WhatsApp is by far the most popular messenger service in Italy.
Social networks enjoy great popularity across all age groups in Italy. The age group with the most active users is the 25–54 bracket. Even among those over 50, 78 percent use the Internet every day.
eMarketer predicts that Italy (3rd) will overtake Spain (2nd – with 83.1 percent penetration) in 2019. According to this study, the top five markets in terms of WhatsApp penetration are European and they will increase in 2019.
Forty-nine percent of South Africans actively use WhatsApp. In a survey asking social media users about their use habits, 93 percent of respondents said they use messenger services like WhatsApp on a daily basis. In contrast, social network platforms like Facebook are used by 87 percent of the respondents (source: Statista).
Singapore and Hong Kong
Surprisingly, WhatsApp is popular in quite a few Asia-Pacific countries.
WhatsApp’s penetration is 86 percent in Singapore.
In Hong Kong, WhatsApp reaches 85 percent of the population. Most likely, these two places are dominated by WhatsApp due to their focus on international business and finance.
Other Relevant Markets:
- Latin America: WhatsApp is popular across the region. Sixty percent of the population in Latin American countries actively use the green messenger app, with Facebook Messenger, YouTube and Instagram all ranking below it. WhatsApp reaches 72 percent of the population in Uruguay, followed by 71 percent in Chile and 70 percent in Argentina.
- Africa: African countries are also dominated by WhatsApp. In fact, Internet usage has increased in Africa due to WhatsApp, which accounts for 50 percent of data usage in Zimbabwe.
- APAC: In addition to Singapore and Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia also enjoy a high WhatsApp reach at 40 percent and 67 percent respectively (2017). The market landscape in the Asia-Pacific Region is dominated by regional app providers such as WeChat (China), KakaoTalk (South Korea) and LINE (Japan). WhatsApp was available in China until 2017 when it was blocked by the government. While it was available, WhatsApp was unable to compete with domestic Chinese services such as WeChat and QQ.
Growth Prospects: United States
Even though WhatsApp was born and bred in the United States, the chat app is surprisingly not the leading messaging service in its native country. Facebook Messenger has been the unshakable leader in the U.S., with Snapchat another popular option. Despite its relative lack of popularity, WhatsApp reached 68.1 million users in 2019 and is projected to grow to 85.8 million users in 2023.
In the U.S., Hispanic Americans top the list of WhatsApp penetration with about 50 percent, while only 21 percent of whites and 14 percent of blacks use the app.
What Does This Mean for WhatsApp Business?
While WhatsApp is clearly the global messaging leader, when we look at specific countries, its success is not uniform around the world.
Companies looking at integrating messaging apps into their omnichannel initiatives should carefully consider where it makes sense to implement WhatsApp Business. While it may be relevant in Brazil, it is clearly not relevant in Australia. This doesn’t mean that companies should completely disregard WhatsApp in low-penetration countries, but it probably shouldn’t be the focus.
WhatsApp keeps growing. With more and more people gaining access to smartphones and the mobile Internet, more users will download and actively use the chat app. Because WhatsApp is also reinventing itself with its business line while continuing to integrate with the Facebook family, it is likely to keep growing globally.
Growth in India, Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Germany, Singapore, South Africa and even the United States shows that WhatsApp is a great place to focus on when considering messaging technologies for customer engagement!