Empowering Brands: Rakuten Viber's 2023 Global Events Spotlight SuperApp Strategies and Solutions

Empowering Brands: Rakuten Viber's 2023 Global Events Spotlight SuperApp Strategies and Solutions

We opened 2023 with a series of events presenting Rakuten Viber for Business solutions, sharing recent updates, and discussing upcoming plans for further strengthening Rakuten Viber’s SuperApp status. During the offline and online events in Greece, Bulgaria, Philippines, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, and at MWC Barcelona, our senior team discussed the newly released products and our long-term strategy in these markets and the world.

Today, we offer businesses solutions for each step of the customer journey: branded Stickers and Lenses, Ads, Business Messages, and Chatbots – everything to help brands build awareness, influence consideration, drive conversion, and nurture loyalty. The benefits of Viber for brands are endless, with Rakuten Viber Messaging and Advertising playing a significant role in connecting businesses with their target audience.

Recently, two major launches have brought us a step closer to fulfilling our SuperApp strategy. Business Inbox is a dedicated space for brand-user interactions, accessible directly from the regular Chats screen. It enables users to store and organize all business messages from official brand accounts in one folder. The new Business Account is a single business entity that allows users to proactively search and discover all business info and channels of communication – in one place.

Here are the most important insights from our recent events, broken down by market, that will help inform your marketing strategy on Rakuten Viber in 2023.

Rakuten Viber in Greece

Kicking off our country-by-country analysis, Greece stands out as a prime example of why Rakuten Viber is an essential marketing channel for businesses. Rakuten Viber’s Chief Revenue Officer, Cristina Constandache, shared key statistics from the Greek market at our recent event, highlighting the importance of Rakuten Viber for brands in the country:

  • Almost 92% of users in Greece access the Internet via smartphone.
  • 56% of local businesses use some kind of social network or messaging app.
  • 7.4M Greeks use social media and messaging apps, signifying the importance of social and chat apps in brand-user interactions.
  • Rakuten Viber is a leading messaging app in the country with 91% smartphone penetration, making it a perfect place for brands to reach their customers.
  • It is supported by the internal Rakuten Viber data from last year: the volume of delivered Business Messages grew by 38%, with particular growth in Promotional (+34%) and Transactional (+41%) Business Messages. Moreover, we saw a steady demand for Rakuten Viber Chatbots: over 180M messages were exchanged in chatbots.
  • And users in Greece are ready to further communicate with brands on Rakuten Viber. An internal survey conducted before the launch of the Business Inbox revealed that users were anticipating the feature and had positive expectations from it. The absolute majority (71.2%) considered Business Inbox convenient, and most respondents (63.1%) said they would prefer to receive business messages in Business Inbox*.
Cristina Constandache, Chief Revenue Officer at Rakuten Viber

In summary, the high smartphone penetration, widespread use of messaging apps, and the growing popularity of Rakuten Viber among Greek users make it a crucial marketing channel in the country. By leveraging Rakuten Viber for Business solutions, brands can effectively reach, engage, and build lasting relationships with their customers in this thriving market.

Rakuten Viber in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, the adoption of messaging apps for communication between users and brands is on the rise, too, making Rakuten Viber an ideal platform for businesses to connect with their target audience. Key trends in the Bulgarian market include:

  • Almost 40% of businesses in Bulgaria use messaging apps and social networks, and 4.45M Bulgarians use social media and messaging apps.
  • Rakuten Viber has a 94% smartphone penetration rate in Bulgaria. Businesses would benefit from tapping into the Rakuten Viber audience not only because it's broad overall, but also because it's financially active and payable: 53% of Rakuten Viber users in the country are 25-50 years old. 52% of Bulgarian users are women, and 48% are men. Out of them, the large majority (88%) use Rakuten Viber on their mobile devices and 12% – on their desktop. 93% are Android users, and 11% use IOS.
Atanas Raykov, VP of Growth, Key Markets, at Rakuten Viber
  • Brands in Bulgaria are already making great use of our solutions. Last year 158% more brands opened Business Messaging accounts compared to the number of newcomers in 2021.
  • There was an overall 61% increase in Business Messages delivered; the number of Transactional messages (order confirmations, delivery trackings, appointment reminders) grew by 53%, Promotional (special offers, discounts) – by 68%, and Conversational (2-way conversations, such as live agent support) – by 79%.
  • Brands and users in the country also actively used Rakuten Viber Chatbots: the number of exchanged messages in bots was over 200M.
  • At the same time, the number of average monthly Ads impressions equaled almost 286M.

Notably, last year Bulgaria became one of the first countries where Business Inbox was launched. Since its launch, Business Inbox in Bulgaria has shown over 85K unique users on average per day. 

Limor Bailey, Partnerships Account Director at Rakuten Viber

Among examples of how brands in Bulgaria use Rakuten Viber for Business is a success story from Management Financial Group (MFG) achieved together with Infobip. They needed to build a systematic communication strategy and improve customer experience throughout the user journey. Now, by implementing Rakuten Viber as the primary communication channel, with SMS fallback enabled, MFG is launching campaigns and sending out promotional messages to reach more customers and promptly update clients about new services. Current results are telling: MFG sees a 20% better open rate in welcome message campaigns using Rakuten Viber and SMS fallback compared to SMS only and a 15% higher response rate compared to their targeted KPIs for the Rakuten Viber campaign.  

Rakuten Viber in Hungary

In Hungary, the use of messaging and social media apps continues to grow among both users and brands, making it the right time for businesses to leverage Rakuten Viber for effective communication. Key trends and statistics in the Hungarian market include:

  • 7.3M Hungarians actively access messaging and social media apps. Brands seek to seize this opportunity: 48% of businesses in Hungary already use messaging apps and social networks – a 10% increase since 2019. This trend will likely continue to grow.
  • Both users and brands in Hungary make great use of Rakuten Viber to communicate with each other, which was proven last year by the 433% growth in delivered Business Messages, a 21% increase in Conversational messages, a 218% – in Promotional messages, and an incredible 729% – in Transactional. A spike in Transactional messages can signify the importance placed on customer experience and a growing trend for sharing important notifications in the app users prefer. The trend on conversations is growing steadily, following other countries in the region. Brands and users are also using Rakuten Viber Chatbots to automate conversations, with 100M+ messages exchanged in bots.
  • With a growing trend in business messaging communication, users in Hungary welcomed the introduction of Business Inbox. Based on an internal Rakuten Viber survey conducted before the launch, more than 71% of users in Hungary viewed it favorably and found it convenient. More than 58% of users said they would read messages in Business Inbox the same day after receipt*.

The expanding role of Rakuten Viber as a go-to platform for communication among Hungarian users and businesses underscores its value as a vital marketing channel. By leveraging multiple Rakuten Viber for Business solutions, brands can effectively engage with their target audience, enhance customer interactions, and engage users like no other channel can.

Rakuten Viber in Serbia

In Serbia, the platform's balanced user demographics, the high penetration rate in the country, and alignment with the mobile-centric eCommerce spending trends present a prime opportunity for businesses to engage with their audience through the power of one-on-one connections of the mobile screens.

  • In Serbia, Rakuten Viber remains popular: with a payable audience (over 52% of the audience is 25–50 y.o.), it’s used almost equally by women (49%) and men (51%). Notably, its user base favors mobile heavily over desktop: 93% use mobile, of which the absolute majority (94%) use Android and 6% – IOS.
  • The prevalence of mobile connections among Rakuten Viber users is in line with the country's general trend: 41.6% of consumer goods eCommerce spend is attributed to purchases made via mobile. Moreover, with 4.99M social media and messaging app users in Serbia, brands are eager to be where their customers are: 46.4% of enterprises already use at least some kind of social media, and the number is likely to continue its growth.
  • One of the advantages of Rakuten Viber is high penetration rates not only in Serbia (94%), but across the region: 96% in Bosnia & Herzegovina,  85% in Macedonia,  80% in Albania, and 96% – in Montenegro.
Konstantin Kostadinov, Senior Sales Director, CEE & CIS, at Rakuten Viber
  • Rakuten Viber in Serbia is beloved not only by users but also by brands seeking to connect with their audience. This interest is reflected in 176% growth in the number of new Business Accounts opened during 2022 versus 2021, as well as the steady popularity of Rakuten Viber chatbots, which saw a total of 170M messages exchanged.
  • Brands also recognize Rakuten Viber as a great advertising platform, thanks, in part, to 601M monthly Ad impressions on average. There was particularly robust growth in usage by brands that deal in Legal Services (+450%), Finance (+433%), Retail loyalty programs (+272%), Entertainment (+215%), and Travel (+141%).
  • As for Rakuten Viber Business Messages, there’s been massive growth in traffic across the board: +57% in the number of delivered Business Messages. Transactional saw the highest growth of +126%, followed by Conversational, at +91%, and Promotional – up by 46%.
  • In view of the growing business messaging traffic, a solid majority of users in CEE (69%) welcomed the arrival of Business Inbox as a convenient feature, with most preferring to receive business messages in Business Inbox*.
Berina Tanovic, Sales Director at Rakuten Viber

Rakuten Viber was proud to present an insightful case study, achieved in cooperation with NTH. A1 Serbia added Rakuten Viber into its portfolio of communication channels, integrating it into Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Used in synergy with other channels, Rakuten Viber Business Messages became a key channel within the customers’ renewal lifecycle. By communicating with customers at the right time, via the right channel, A1 Serbia was able to provide the best E2E customer experience and achieve higher rates of customer satisfaction. 76% of messages delivered on Rakuten Viber were seen, and Rakuten Viber’s share in each customer journey reached 20%

We thank the Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Center for Digital Transformation for making this event possible!

Rakuten Viber in Ukraine

Brand-user communications have proven resilient and bounced back after the shock at the beginning of the invasion. With an increase in the volume of Rakuten Viber Business Messages sent at the end of 2022, Ukrainian businesses have demonstrated their flexibility and grit.

  • Rakuten Viber is installed on 98% of smartphones in the country and is considered Ukraine’s #1 messaging app as it boasts tens of millions of users monthly and consistently ranks as one of the top three mobile apps. The app is popular with many age segments: 46% of the audience is younger than 35 y.o., and over half – are 25–50 y.o.
  • As the importance of information and community grew, Rakuten Viber Channels saw a growth of 70.5% in the number of Channel messages being read.
  • Users have been using Rakuten Viber Stickers and Lenses, too, with assets in Ukrainian enjoying particular popularity: over 1.3M users have tried on the Lens featuring Ukraine’s Eurovision candidate, Kalush, and 700M stickers in Ukrainian were exchanged in 2022.
  • Compared to March, there’s been robust growth of 138% in the volume of Rakuten Viber Business Messages sent in December 2022.

Given the challenges faced by Ukrainian businesses, Rakuten Viber’s team focused on the specific goals that Rakuten Viber for Business solutions could help with, such as creating the perfect flow for online sales, cuttings costs without compromising quality and scale, maintaining the connection with the audience, as well as catching and keeping the customer attention in an oversaturated info space. Rakuten Viber Advertising Solutions (including Lenses, Ads, and Stickers), Chatbots, and Business Messages were among the introduced solutions, and the team was happy to answer many questions from the audience during an almost doubled-length Q&A session. Special thanks to Vector for organizing this event!

Rakuten Viber in The Philippines

The Philippines continues experiencing an ongoing surge in Rakuten Viber usage, with YoY growth in user numbers and the notable increase in group chat activity. Marketers continue embracing Rakuten Viber as the key platform for customer engagement and for providing customer service. 

  • Last year Rakuten Viber saw a 22% increase in the number of Rakuten Viber users; people also increasingly send messages in group chats, achieving 19% growth.
  • It encourages brands in the country to turn to Rakuten Viber to reach and strengthen communication with their customers. Last year there was a 16% growth in the number of Business Messaging accounts, and a 13% increase in Business Messages delivered.
  • As brands embrace conversational commerce, Rakuten Viber saw an 83% spike in Conversational messages, while the drive to improve customer experience was reflected in an astounding 603% increase in Transactional messages, and an 11% growth in the number of Promotional messages.
  • Brands also actively leverage bots which is revealed by a 34% increase in the number of Chatbots.

Rakuten Viber has emerged as the right choice for businesses in the Philippines for several reasons, making it a powerful marketing platform that caters to the evolving needs of the local market:

  • Expanding user base
  • Active chat usage
  • Emphasis on e-commerce and conversational commerce
  • Chatbot adoption.
David Tse, Senior Director, APAC, at Rakuten Viber

Rakuten Viber at MWC Barcelona

Finally, an important milestone in our recent event schedule was, of course, MWC Barcelona. Held in Barcelona, Spain, the Mobile World Congress is the world’s biggest annual gathering for the mobile industry, with 88,500 attendees in 2023. This year’s edition was focused on 5G, Fintech, OpenNet, Reality+, and Digital Everything and the ever-evolving mobile landscape.

Aside from excellent networking, our team has enjoyed a few major highlights:

  1. Rakuten Viber’s Partnerships Account Director Limor Bailey took part in an engaging panel discussion, organized by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum. This was a great opportunity to discuss the challenges that brands face in communication with customers, as well as how superapps can help to overcome them.
  2. Rakuten Viber’s Senior Director for Partnerships & Sales Noa Bar Shay also had an engaging conversation with MEF about our superapp strategy, global presence, and business solutions for each step of the customer journey.
  3. In a major victory for the team, our payment solution won the prestigious MEFFYS 2023 Mobile Payments Award. Announced by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum during this year’s MWC Barcelona, this award celebrates the progress and innovation in the industry.
Viber’s superapp strategy presented at MWC Barcelona

Rakuten Viber has many more exciting events and news planned for this year. To stay in the loop on all things Rakuten Viber, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

*Rakuten Viber Survey (18-20 of January 2023); markets: Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary.