Since the release of the WhatsApp Business App and, subsequently, WhatsApp Business API, the popular app has become one of the top messaging platforms businesses use to communicate with their customers.
If you, too, are considering WhatsApp as one of your main communication and engagement channels, this article brings you the stats you need to make an informed decision.
All the data included in our compilation was published in 2020 or later. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger… well, messenger marketing in general moves too fast for older stats to be still relevant today.
So, let’s have a look if it’s at all worth it to direct your attention beyond traditional social media to instant messaging.
Smartphone Adoption & Quality of Connections
The advantages of messaging apps are only available to smartphone users. So, before focusing on WhatsApp Messenger specifically, let’s take a look at the global overview of mobile internet/data usage and smartphone adoption.
The Mobile Economy 2022 report predicts that smartphone adoption will grow in all regions of the world. Worldwide, this population penetration will increase from 75% in 2021 to 84% in 2025.
Examining the prediction region by region, the adoption jump will be much more significant in developing economies since, in territories such as Europe and North America, smartphones are already used by most of the population.
Furthermore, according to the same report, by 2025, four out of five mobile connections will be smartphones.
If that wasn’t convincing enough, the report also predicts that mobile data usage will triple in most regions by 2027.
Mobile & Internet Usage Today
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The current situation also looks pretty good for you to reap the benefits.
According to the DIGITAL 2022 GLOBAL OVERVIEW REPORT, the time we spend using the internet every day has been steadily growing since 2013.
What is more important, more and more of that internet time is actually spent on mobile devices. In fact, mobile has already overtaken desktop internet usage and reigns the day with 53,5%.
Another useful data point to consider is the overall hours (not just internet hours) spent on mobile. The graph below shows the situation across different countries and economies.
Brasil and Indonesia lead with almost five and a half hours on average, and most mature markets range between 3-4 hours a day.
Year on year, the time the world engages with smartphones increases by 6,7%, and over 92% of that time is dedicated to mobile app usage.
All in all, it’s undeniable that smartphones are becoming more and more widespread and indispensable to our daily experience.
Hence, as smartphone adoption grows and mobile data coverage improves, messaging apps like WhatsApp are bound to attract a broader and broader audience. Slowly but surely, they are cementing their status as the most direct way to contact consumers.
Social & Communication Apps: Overview of Downloads & Active Users
A significant part of our mobile hours belongs to social and communication apps.
When DIGITAL 2022 looked at the overall time people have been dedicating to these apps from 2013 to 2021, their data showed consistent growth that settled at approx. 2,5 hours in 2019 and has been more or less steady since.
That time is dominated by content leaders such as YouTube, Facebook & TikTok. Yet, despite being more communicative than a social content app, WhatsApp is right on the tail of the media titans.
If you consider the data from a monthly perspective, WhatsApp still beats, by far, any other purely messaging app in terms of hours spent on social media:
When ranked by active monthly users, though, according to App Annie, WhatsApp is second only to Facebook among apps.
But YouTube steals second place when social platforms are considered in general, including app and desktop users alike.
While their social-content-based media platforms might snatch the top places in terms of active monthly users, when asked about favorites, users pick WhatsApp:
WhatsApp Penetration: The Geo Fight for Dominance
To put WhatsApp's success into an even broader perspective, Digital 2022 put together a comprehensive geographic view of app dominance per country.
This information is very important from a business perspective because, while WhatsApp might be the most popular messaging app globally, there are smaller regions where another app might make sense.
For example, the next statistics look at the top ten countries with the highest number of WhatsApp users, globally.
While India might look like the most penetrated market, you need to consider the population size in each country. When taking that into account, for instance, India’s WhatsApp penetration is at around 30%, while Brazil's is at close to 50%. Both countries are leaders and even pioneers in WhatsApp usage, especially in the business context.
Another report looks closely at European countries. Here, the percentages are higher, but that’s because the study calculates the penetration from the countries’ number of internet users, not the whole population:
Still, it gives you a great idea that within Europe, Spain and Italy are the most penetrated markets, but other countries are not much behind.
Leaving geography behind, it’s always good to consider the demographics as well. 45.8% of WhatsApp users are female, and 54.3% are male. When excluding users younger than 13 years old, WhastApp penetration of the global population is at 32.4%:
WhatsApp Statistics: Performance
WhatsApp usage and popularity are not random phenomena or short-time trends.
The messaging app has been amassing users steadily for over a decade. The stats below stop with the count in 2020 when the app reached 2 billion users. However, today, the number is likely to be higher.
With the growing audience, the number of daily exchanged messages has been growing as well:
Hence, while using 3rd-party channels for business comes with a specific dependence and lack of control, WhatsApp offers a vital trust factor not just in terms of popularity but also in Meta’s direction, which puts messaging at the forefront.
WhatsApp: More than a Messaging Channel
Stirring away from numbers and the popularity context, it’s essential to examine WhatsApp from a qualitative perspective. As the app keeps improving and changing, the way people use it and the reasons why they value it also change.
While chatting is still the most crucial aspect of the app, other features are earning their place on the favorites list, including “contact businesses.”
When questioned specifically about the benefits of using WhatsApp to interact with businesses, “not having to wait” is the winner with 33%, and “being able to interact after business hours” takes second place with 28% support. Other listed benefits include the ability to exchange rich media such as images and PDFs, it being a free form of communication, personalized conversation, and individual attention.
Users are not the only ones reaping benefits from WhatsApp communication. One of the key advantages for businesses using WhatsApp rather than any other channel is the open rate which is around uncontested 98%.
WhatsApp is a tool people naturally engage with and love using on a daily basis, making it much more potent than an email or a phone call. While email is still relevant, people don’t check it as often and are more “immune” to mass communications through that channels. Phone calls, while immediate, take away user freedom. On the other hand, WhatsApp communication is instant while giving users the space to engage at their convenience.
So, those are the benefits users and businesses can get from using WhatsApp. But what are the reasons they actually use the platform to contact them?
According to another study, 54% of users say they contact businesses on WhatsApp to track delivery, 50% use it for appointments and notifications, 43% to get special deals, 39% for customer service, and 23% for a variety of updates such as cancellations or delays.
This information is interesting since one would assume customer support would be the number one reason.
However, messaging, and specifically, WhatsApp messaging, offers up many new possibilities for interaction across all stages of the customer journey.
For example, according to most recent studies, younger generations rely more and more on social networks (messaging apps included) when trying to find information about a brand.
A similar opportunity lies in the growing mobile purchases:
Consumers are turning to their mobile devices more and more often, taking the typically desktop actions with them.
The trick to keeping ahead of the curve is to make this transition easy, allowing people to do things on their terms, in their comfort zone, and at their speed. WhatsApp communication enables just that.
- Smartphone adoption, as well as availability and quality of mobile data, will continue growing in the coming years;
- WhatsApp will continue to grow its user base while redefining itself to be more than a communication app;
- Messaging apps marketing is likely to become the next big thing in social media advertising;
- WhatsApp is dominating the messaging apps landscape as well as the shift from personal to business communication;
- WhatsApp usage is specific to countries and even regions within the countries. Always check whether or not the global data accurately reflects your user base.