A new report by Forrester says despite the rising popularity of mobile messaging apps, platform marketing efforts are still in their infancy. For example, WhatsApp has the most subscribers (500 million monthly active) and no marketing and advertising offerings. Line, with 420 million registered users derives the largest marketing revenue, $335 million. WeChat – with 355 million active users and named as one of the winners at the DLD Conference in NYC – has less than $50 million in revenue. The findings suggest direct messaging is ripe for monetization. WeChat was the third most popular brand in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury – China, with 49% of brands present on the platform at the time of the study. In late 2013, WeChat launched online to offline payment platform Weigouwu, which China’s No. 1 jeweler Chow Tai Fook uses. WeChat is expected to grow as mobile shipments grow to 450 million in 2014.
And even though most Watches & Jewelry and Fashion brands have been reluctant to sell or link to third party retailers through WeChat, many have used creative techniques to turn their followers into buyers. For example, Tommy Hilfiger launched size WeChat size assistants to help find the best fit for customers. Montblanc provides a geo-local store locator and makes in-store reservations through the app. Most likely, we are on the edge of an explosion in messaging app marketing efforts, as soon as the platforms have determined best practices and brought brands on board.