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(EN) Unlocking LINE: Japan's No.1 Social App and Its Unstoppable Rise

Read the Japanese version here

In a digital age dominated by social media, Japan’s affinity for the LINE app stands out. With over 95 million users in Japan alone, LINE isn’t just a messaging app; it’s a cultural phenomenon that has ingrained itself into the daily lives of its users. But what makes LINE so uniquely successful in Japan, even compared to giants like WhatsApp? Let’s delve into the fascinating journey of LINE and uncover why it is considered the super app of Japan.

LINE mobile app

The Origins of LINE: A Disaster Response Tool Turned Social Media Titan

LINE began under extraordinary circumstances. Born out of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, it was initially a disaster response tool developed by Naver for its Japanese staff to communicate when traditional telecom infrastructures failed. This need for a reliable internet-based communication tool led to the public release of LINE, which exploded in popularity, acquiring over 100 million users within just 18 months.

Why is LINE Japan’s Preferred Social Media App?

Several features distinguish LINE from other messaging apps:

1. Stickers and Emojis: At the heart of LINE’s popularity are its animated stickers and emojis. In a culture that adores anime and manga, these stickers are not just fun but are a unique method of expression. Users can both purchase and create stickers, making it a platform for creative expression and monetization.

2. Super App Capabilities: LINE goes beyond messaging. With features like LINE VOOM, LINE Today, LINE Pay, LINE Games, LINE TV, LINE Manga, and LINE Shopping, it caters to a vast array of user needs all within a single app. This integration of services makes it indispensable and a true super app.

3. Demographic Reach: The app’s usability and features attract a wide demographic. Our data indicates a balanced use across all age groups, with significant usage in the 50-59 age bracket. Interestingly, there is a slight female majority among users, and nearly half of the users are full-time employees, highlighting its integration into both personal and professional life.

4. High Engagement Rates: The engagement rates among users are impressive. For instance, women aged 25-29 engage with the app daily at a rate of over 90%, and similar high engagement is seen across other age groups. This constant engagement is crucial for businesses considering marketing through LINE.

Using LINE for Business: Connecting with a Japanese Audience

Businesses looking to engage with the Japanese market cannot ignore LINE. It offers vast advertising opportunities, especially given its high engagement rates and extensive user base. Here’s how businesses can leverage LINE:

(i) Targeted Advertising: Use LINE’s detailed demographic data to tailor advertisements.

(ii) Custom Stickers and Promotions: Businesses can create branded stickers or run promotions directly within the app, which can increase visibility and user interaction.

(iii) E-commerce Integrations: With LINE Shopping, businesses can directly sell products, tapping into Japan’s growing trend towards e-commerce.


LINE’s evolution from a simple messaging app to a super app showcases its flexibility and deep understanding of its user base. For anyone looking to connect with the Japanese audience, whether for business or social engagement, understanding and integrating LINE into your strategy is essential. Its unique blend of social and professional tools ensures that it will remain at the forefront of Japan’s digital space for years to come.

Interested in tapping into Japan’s lucrative market? Engage with UX Research Player to discover strategic insights and tailored advertising solutions for your brand.


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