Daily Insights

How to Use LINE to Build Brand and Customer Relationships

By: Wilson Zhao | Jan 04, 2021

Within Japan’s social media space, LINE is the most used platform and plays an increasingly central role in many brands’ daily marketing and localization strategy. It has become a must-have investment in the new digital age to win the Japan market. Together with China’s WeChat and Korean’s KakaoTalk, LINE is considered a super-app that offers all-in-one services and functionalities including messaging, video chat, timeline posts, LINE shopping, LINE Pay, delivery, and more

LINE is also the most preferred social media platform used by luxury brands in Japan, and is the only one to  receive an increasing year-over-year adoption rate in Gartner’s insight report on the topic, rising from 75% to 83% this year, followed by Facebook’s 71% and Twitter’s 54%. 

In recent years, LINE has been looking to WeChat, which boasts a 100% adoption rate  according to Gartner’s key findings report on luxury brands, thanks to a development roadmap and the introduction of similar features like Mini App, LINE Membership Card, and LINE Work. Nonetheless, LINE still has its own unique ecosystem and Western brands need to know how to play on this platform to win the Japan market.

There are six popular tools to build your brand and interact with customers on LINE: LINE Account & Message, Timeline Post, LINE Brand Sticker, LINE Point, Mini App, and Advertising.

LINE Account & Message

Opening a LINE account allows brands to directly communicate with customers and broadcast their marketing through push messages. Brands can develop their own account menu tabs to feature brand campaigns, provide services, and link users to commerce within the app. Out of these,linking to brand sites is the most popular function, with a 100% adoption rate by luxury brands. Providing omnichannel capabilities such as store locator and offline visit reservation is the second most popular function, with a 64% adoption rate. For example, Louis Vuitton developed a comprehensive LINE account functionality to provide offline appointment reservation, store locator, and customer service that is available directly in the chat window.

LINE Membership Card is a place where brands can provide loyalty service and membership information directly from LINE accounts. It is not widely adopted by luxury brands yet, but as brands are increasingly leaning on LINE to communicate with loyal customers and collect CRM data, LINE Membership Card could be a useful tool to promote loyalty programs and facilitate services. Uniqlo pioneered in the development of LINE Membership Card to help users easily register and access loyalty cards directly on their LINE account. Not only can it allow users to check membership and shop history and coupons, but it also creates an omnichannel experience that incentivizes users to scan the LINE membership during offline checkout in order to enter the lottery game. It also leads users to the other two Uniqlo chat bots that provide customer service and personalized styling tips.

Timeline post
Timeline post is similar to Facebook’s timeline in which brands broadcast their marketing campaign and new product launches. Different from push messages, LINE users can view, like, forward, and comment on all posts, past and present. Omnichannel campaign posts such as offline store free gift, limited time collection sales, customization service, etc. are some of the most engaging content types.

LINE Sticker
When it comes to growing account followers, LINE sticker campaigns are an effective mechanism. They create another digital touchpoint to interact with loyal customers and convert them for brand advocacy. Ralph Lauren has successfully leveraged five brand sticker collections to build a significantly outsized LINE follower base of more than 9.6M, compared to the index average of 1.7M.  

LINE Point
Another popular type of reward is LINE point, which users can spend on stickers, themes, and other services. Brands usually leverage LINE points to reward users for supporting their marketing initiatives, such as loyalty surveys, brand account referral, store visits, and purchases. For example, Tommy Hilfiger leveraged LINE point giveaway to encourage survey filling and incentivize customers to scan QR code at offline stores in exchange for LINE points. 

LINE Mini App
LINE Mini App is similar to the mobile app, but within the LINE platform. It allows users to quickly access the mini app without the complicated downloading process, easily register, and share  with LINE friends. Brands utilize mini app to provide services, create interesting interactions, and collect CRM data. Louis Vuitton is the first luxury brand to develop a mini app that allows users to create a gift list and wish list, and share with friends

LINE Advertising
Advertising within LINE can efficiently target specific customer segment groups and support brands’ marketing campaigns. Brands can take advantage of LINE’s 86M monthly active users as well as its vast ecosystem to place ads on different properties, including chat channel, timeline post, LINE Flyers, LINE Wallet, LINE News, LINE Animation, and more.   

The pandemic has accelerated the digital commerce pathway and has forced brands to adopt  new tools to meet  challenges. LINE is the key enabler to continuously build both brand awareness and customer relationships in the Japanese market.