Global Mobile Messaging Forecast 2021

How Marketers Can Leverage Chat Apps, From Communications to Commerce

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About This Report
The number of mobile messaging app users worldwide will rise by 6.1% in 2021, and new business features facilitate brand-consumer interactions.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

As the number of mobile messaging app users continues to rise, so too do the use cases for marketers. Messaging apps are still primarily used for customer communications in most countries, but new commerce integrations are bringing those services closer to checkout.

How many people use mobile messaging apps?

There will be 3.09 billion monthly messaging app users worldwide in 2021, up by 6.1% year over year (YoY). Even after last year’s pandemic-induced surge in growth, the user base is still rising at a faster clip than we had previously anticipated, thanks to new business and consumer-facing features.

What are the leading mobile messaging apps?

Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger dominate in the Western world, while WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk are the major players in China, Japan, and South Korea, respectively. User growth in alternative apps like Signal and Telegram spiked earlier this year following WhatsApp’s announcement of new privacy terms. However, this growth has since normalized, except in Russia where Telegram continues to grow.

How are marketers using messaging apps for customer communications?

Customer support is the No. 1 use case for marketers using messaging apps, especially those in travel and tourism. Marketers in the healthcare and consumer packed goods industries are also making inroads on messaging apps in addition to or as a replacement for live chat and call center support.

How large is the messaging commerce opportunity?

In markets with more nascent ecommerce habits and strong adoption of mobile messaging apps, like India and Latin America, many consumers already make purchases via messaging. But in countries like the US and parts of Western Europe where ecommerce habits are established and privacy concerns run high, uptake of messaging commerce will likely be slower.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? Our latest forecast for mobile messaging app users worldwide and a guide for marketers on how they can use messaging apps as part of customer communications and commerce strategies.

KEY STAT: The number of monthly messaging app users worldwide will rise by 6.1% to 3.09 billion, which is an upgrade from our pre-pandemic estimate.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Messaging App Users 2021: Sizing the Opportunity
  3. What’s Changing that Could Impact Our Forecast?
  1. How Can Marketers Make the Most of Mobile Messaging Apps?
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

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authors

Jasmine Enberg

Contributors

Whitney Birdsall
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Chris Keating
Director, Research
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst