Rahul Sachitanand
Aug 10, 2020

Line takes hold in Thailand, expanding far beyond its roots

ASIA'S TOP 1000 BRANDS: The super-app has shot up to become Thailand's 8th ranked brand.

Line takes hold in Thailand, expanding far beyond its roots


On July 30th, the Thai unit of Japanese social media and servies app Line announced it had raised $100 million in funding from BRV Capital and would also merge with Wongnai Media, its local partner. A few days prior, Line Thailand had unveiled a new country CEO Phichet Rerkpreecha, who had announced bullish plans to build the firm's Thai business into a bustling super-app that would integrate its users' online and offline worlds. 

As part of this ambitious expansion, boldly termed 'Life on Line', Rerkpreecha is leading the evolution of this once food delivery upstart into something much bigger, announcing plans to build out a Line Mini app along with shopping and grocery services, ringtone telecom service 'Melody' and its Smart Channel services for business. 

This kind of ambitious growth is reflected in the sharp rise of Line in the Thai rankings of Asia's Top 1000 Brands survey, exploding from 64th to 8th place. Line now ranks streets ahead of the competition like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger in Thailand, but given its bold ambitions, is also ranked higher than ride-hailing and food ordering apps too. 

"Line has been very active in terms of expanding their business and it’s become more involved than ever in the daily life of consumers, from morning till night, with 45 million users currently," says Suwitta Chotverasatanon, general manager at McCann Worldgroup Thailand. "During COVID-19, we saw the food delivery business grow exponentially and Line was at the forefront as the leading platform for this in Thailand."

Most recently, in early August the app launched Line Meeting, a new group call feature that allows users to it by URL, both via smartphone and PC, in groups of up to 500.

However, as the brand outgrows its roots, it is looking to not just consumers, but to businesses also to drive growth. In its statement, Line noted there there are three million Line Official Accounts (OA), with 1.3 million OA for retail business and 180,000 OA in restaurants. This success has led to the development of Line OA+ and OA+ E-Commerce. Those services will allow customers to purchase products directly through LINE OA, without having to switch to other applications. 

For marketers in Thailand, Line has lauched new advertisement formats and strategies that include an online-merge-offline (OMO) ad ecosystem and a digital data analysis tool called Line Reach Curve. In March, Line Thailand launched an ad format called 'Story Linked' on Line TV in March. The ad format will divide video ads into smaller parts, making it similar to sequential ads. 

Similarly, for OA x Line Man, where users can place food orders through OA, Line also announced a partnership for LINE2SHOP, with MAC Cosmetics as its launch partner. In addition, Line has devised new offerings such as Slide ad (a new type of ad for Line Today), Smart Channel (a space for advertising on the top of the chat list, so marketers can send targeted messages to the right audience at the right time) and Line Idol, which allows celebrities to communicate and build relationships with their fan base more effectively. 

Beyond its app, Line is also flexing its financial muscle to build out new businesses in Thailand. For example, Line's mobile payment platfrom now has six million accounts, four million credit/debit cards and five million e-wallets registered. Line's fintech business, operating under the management of Kasikorn LINE since launching in 2018, is also expanding with new products expected soon for personal finance, credit information and to help users invest safely in four areas: insights, borrowing, insurance, and investment.  

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