2019 Guide to Line Marketing in Japan

by Geoffrey Guyonnet

Each market has its uniqueness when it comes to communicating with the right audience, in an age where communication is made over the internet, each country has adopted or create their service. Therefore as a business, you aim to use the best channel to leverage your audience and engage in more sales.

While marketing promotions in Japan are conducted over the common platforms like Google ads and Facebook ads, there is also a tool you necessitate to penetrate the Japanese market: LINE.

Line in details

You might not be familiar with Line; however, it is the most popular messaging app in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia. In addition, the app made the largest tech IPO in 2016 on the New York stock exchange opening at 42$.

Line is a free messaging app created in response to the March 2011 Tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan. As most of the country telecom infrastructures were broken, a team of engineers working at the internet company NAVER developed their internet-based communication solution.

The company released its app to the public in June of the same year and quickly became the most used app in Japan before exporting to other Asian countries.

Line is comparable to the messaging apps in North-America or Europe, for example, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessages but integrate some unique features that make it more complete for users. Over Line, people can video call and message their contacts, keep up with news, post content on their timeline, order a taxi, find a job, get vouchers for local stores, play games, request or send money to friends, pay utility bills and local store using Line pay and more.
There are even physical stores over Asia for people to buy merchandising or goodies from Line famous characters.

Line in Japan

In 2019 the app is counting over 700M users worldwide, with 80M users on the Japanese market exclusively, which makes it the most popular social app domestically. With over 70% of daily active users, the success of Line stands in a wider demographic reach compared to the other social apps, from young adults to grandparents, everybody is using Line in Japan.

Line demography of Japanese users
The Line users demography chart

Japanese map of line market share
The map of Japan with detailed Line market share.

Line is a nationwide used application; for advertisers, the audience reach is 2 or 3 times higher compared to social platforms used in western markets. With people using Line exclusively as a social media, you can expect great results integrating Line in your marketing mix strategy for entering the Japanese market.

What is Line marketing?

Line marketing is a complete and versatile tool for marketers and business owners in Japan; it gives a great panel of actions to take for engaging with your customers and spread your brand.

The whole concept of Line marketing is to create a close relationship with your clients; the entire system operates as an advanced push notification platform. Get your leads and customers to become followers of your brand, create a personalized communication for each segment of your audience.

Direct messages

Get your audience to become followers of your brand, by spreading your Line ID and QR code over your store and campaigns. Recently we have seen geolocalized campaigns like Uniqlo, enter a UNIQLO store and you might receive a line notification for an immediate discount if you accept the company friend request.

Whoever has added your Line account as a friend can receive your message and notifications directly on their Line. The company is promoting the benefits of Line marketing as one of the highest open and interaction rate. People are reading your message and taking action over your promotions.

Direct Message process in Line.

To make your communication strategies more likely to convert, Line is working hard on creating a new format of interaction. Apart from the classic message format, the panel of options is excellent.

Reach messages

Engage your followers with clickable visuals, choose a template for your campaign, insert multiple designs, and URLs in it.

reach messages for Line
An example of reach message on Line.

Video Reach messages

Engage your followers with videos of different formats.

Video reach message on Line
A video reach message example on Line

Reach Menu messages

Engage your followers with a custom built menu of actions that can be taken over your Line account.

Reach menu line
A reach menu example on Line


As every customer aren’t the same, Line allows you to target your audience in a more personal way. Split your Line followers by gender, age, position, technology, and history.

Line Chat

Line can operate as a live chat bot thru the Line Chat interface; this feature let you communicate personally with your customers to answer individual requests or questions.

Line chat back-office
The Line chat back-office

For scaled up business, Line made it possible to set up auto-responses based on keywords.

Timeline and Feed

Create and manage your company profile, post daily your news offers, coupon, or products. Every Line users have a feed based on whom they are following, while some people are posting content on it the feed is mostly checked by users to get coupons.

Line timeline and feed
A Line timeline and feed example

Line Stickers

While it might be surprising for those who are unfamiliar with Japan or Asian countries in general, but stickers are engagement triggers for your audience and your potential customers.

Stickers are visual creatives that can be sent by a click on it; they usually represent famous characters in cartoon draws and are used to display your emotions thru it. They are used by over 80% of users daily and are very popular that to some extent, they become real merchandising.

Line stickers shop
The Line stickers shop.

How companies use stickers for marketing?

Line allows companies to create their stickers and promote it in different ways; they are a significant trigger to get new Line followers and brand awareness at the same time. For promotion purpose two types of stickers are made available:

Sponsored stickers: promote your stickers on the Line store for four weeks, the creative will be display on the top of the store as feature stickers. Two plans are available; 35M Japanese yens for 8 stickers or 40M Japanese yens for 16 stickers. While this relatively pricy and mostly targetted to big enterprises, it gives high visibility for a month and chances of including brand visuals in daily communication.

Direct stickers: let your followers downloading your stickers directly thru your account. It cost 10M Japanese yens for 8 sticks and 15M Japanese yens for 16 stickers.

Users can download promotional stickers for free, or under a specific condition that a company required such as adding the official account as a friend, sharing a post and more.

Line Ads Platform

The ads platform is the display service of Line Marketing; you can easily compare it to the most famous as Facebook ads, Google ads, Pinterest Ads.

It includes the multiple formats of ads that you can display over people Timeline, Line news, Line Manga, Line blog, and more.

Like any paid advertising, you need to define and set your objectives, and audience. A Line tag has been created to help E-commerce companies to run effective advertising for remarketing campaigns. Another unique feature is the Line friends acquisition campaigns that let you set a cost-per-friends bidding price and display ads to acquire more followers.

Line Ads display campaign examples
Line Ads display campaign examples

Why should you consider Line as part of your marketing strategy?

The importance of doing marketing over Line might be challenging to get if you are unfamiliar with Japanese market, culture, and language but it provides a customers proximity and engagement that no others social media have in Japan.

While your content and creatives will need to be localized, your communication can be fully customizable to match your brand image.

While in North-America and Europe, we are using promotion campaigns for significant events such a Black Friday or Easter, Japan is a country where promotion and discount campaigns are a weekly basis. Most Japanese companies are using Line for communicating directly with their customers over these promotions, not using Line Marketing would be a competitive disadvantage.

Survey Line customers actions
The interaction between business account and Line friends

Starting a marketing campaign on Line

Creating a LINE Official business account

Line offers three types for those who want to engage in marketing activities using their platform:

– Premium account
– Verified account
– Unverified account

There are some few screening processes if you want your account to be verified and later become a premium account, but you need to know that all three types offer the same features the only difference is that unverified accounts are not searchable for users.

Choosing a plan

After getting your account ready for business, based on your needs you will have to pick up a plan. The features are all the same but the prices vary on the messages quantities you need per month.

Getting familiar with Line account Back-office

Line provide a web and app back-office to manage your marketing actions fully, answers your messages, and more.

Line Marketing Back-office
A look at Line Marketing Back-office.

Additionally, an Analytics section, that displays your messages open rate and clicks, the numbers of followers, your timeline engagement.
Analytics report Line Marketing
A look at the Analytics report on Line Marketing

Looking to export your business in the Japanese market?

Our team of marketers at GORIDE is focusing on generating high-quality marketing and providing consistent sales growth. We can help you localize your content and start full marketing on Line in Japan.

Reach us for a free quote for your Japanese market expansion.


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