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Mobile Marketing in Indonesia: An Emerging Digital Economy

As the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia boasts tremendous potential for growth and consumption. Indonesia is home to the fourth largest population in the world, with 274 million residents. Gen Zs and millennials account for 58% of the population, compared to the US and China’s 46%, opening itself to a wealth of opportunities for digital brands and apps looking for new growth. 

As the largest and best-performing “Tiger Cub” economy, Indonesia’s digital economy has exploded in recent years with all Internet industries achieving double-digital percentage growth in 2021. What are the driving forces behind Indonesia’s robust economic development? What are its engines of growth? In this article, you will find:

  • Indonesia’s user profiles
  • Indonesia’s popular apps(social networking/games/e-commerce)
  • Insights from a local marketing expert


User Profiles

It’s crucial to note how incredibly diverse Indonesia is. Known as the “Land of a Thousand Islands,” Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands. With this, there are 1,300 ethnic groups, 6 major religions, and the world’s largest Muslim population. Linguistically, Bahasa is the official language, but over 800 languages are spoken in Indonesia, with most people fluent in more than 2 languages. These are just some of the many cultural details you must consider for your next campaign, as understanding Indonesia’s cultural diversity is paramount to success

Demographically, local users show a distinct difference according to their ages.

Gen Z (18-24 years old): the most active Internet and new media users

The most popular apps are TikTok, Instagram, and Reddit for Gen Z users.  This generation is very open-minded and easily accepts changes. They are the most active social media users and are highly influenced by it. Marketers can cater their strategies to engage Gen Zs thorugh social media with tactics such as influencer marketing.

Millennials (25-34 years old): experienced and credibility-conscious e-commerce users

Besides social networking apps like Telegram and LinkedIn, they frequently use e-commerce applications such as Shopee and Tokopedia. Indonesian millennials have been a major driver of economic growth since they are predominantly well-versed in technology and are growing their purchasing power. 

Gen X+ (over 35 years old): stability-conscious and health-conscious pragmatists

Their favorite apps are Facebook and WhatsApp. Although most assume users over 35 prefer offline products/services, due to the global pandemic, Gen X+ users’ high purchasing power and increasing online presence have made them ideal customers for e-commerce companies.

Insights from Intan, a local marketing expert

  • Indonesian consumers are cost-conscious and always put prices first. In response, promotions serve as a profitable growth engine. Customer retention and customer loyalty are two key factors to consider during promotional periods.
  • Respect for local religions is a must. Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia. This explains why your localization efforts must pay heed to certain animals such as avoiding dogs and pigs. An example of this is when JD.com changed its company logo from a puppy to a pony in the Indonesian market.
  • Indonesians are diehard fans of K-dramas and hold Korean culture in very high esteem. Korean stars are hot-ticket spokespersons and great brand ambassadors for Indonesian companies. Therefore a dose of local pop culture in advertising can go a long way in raising your brand awareness.


Popular Apps

Social Media Platforms

With an increasing number of online entertainment and social media users, Southeast Asia has become one of the world’s fastest-growing media markets. Within the region, Indonesia is the largest and most prosperous. As of January 2022, there were 186 million active social media users in Indonesia, making up 68.9% of its population. 

Indonesia’s most popular social media platforms are YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and TikTok. The average amount of time people spend on social media is 3 hours and 37 minutes per day, with an average of 8.5 different platforms per user. With this growing number of users and time spent, taking advantage of social media can bring success. Online video such as YouTube or TikTok has a strong influence on Indonesian shopping behavior, but that is just one of the many great opportunities. With a high average of 8.5 different platforms, having a diverse campaign strategy is another option to consider.

Mobile Games

As the most populous country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is poised to become the fourth largest gaming market worldwide. Market leaders in the gaming industry have been targeting Indonesia with Chinese apps MLBB and PUBG managing to secure a dominant share of the local market.

Indonesia has been considered one of the key destinations for Chinese game-makers to develop overseas markets. According to the “Mobvista 2022 Chinese Mobile Games Go Global White Paper”, Indonesia saw the fastest development of casual mobile games launched by go-global Chinese publishers in 2021, with a growth rate of over 20%.

Download volume of popular Chinese casual handheld game markets abroad in 2021

Download volume of popular Chinese casual handheld game markets abroad in 2021

In terms of game categories, casual games such as matching games, board games, and solitaire have drawn an increasing number of Indonesian users.

For player demographics, most Indonesian gamers are male teenagers or young adults. Male players account for 55%, and female players account for 45%.

Insights from Intan, a local marketing expert

  • The rise of e-sports brings new opportunities. Indonesia boasts one of the highest numbers of mobile e-sports tournaments in Southeast Asia. Among other things, local players and viewers find MOBA games particularly appealing. Therefore, game developers should prioritize short videos and streaming media for their marketing strategies.
  • Language localization is a prerequisite for retention. Games that benefit from lasting popularity in Indonesia have always localized their products into the official Bahasa language. In addition to game localization, ad creatives require an understanding of local pop culture.
  •  Awareness of unique local culture and customs is critical. Indonesian users are especially fond of vivid colors and unconventional ads. Note that green is a widely used color in local ad creatives since it is often associated with Muslim culture.
 Stumble Guys' ad creatives

 Stumble Guys’ ad creatives ( Source: CAS Overseas Edition)

       Stumble Guys’ ad creatives (Source: CAS Overseas Edition)


Indonesian users love to shop online with 95% of Indonesian customers preferring to do online shopping on their phones. The best-selling categories include fashion products and accessories, beauty and personal care, electronics, and groceries.

Social media platforms are a game-changer for e-commerce as 80% of Indonesian e-merchants choose to promote their products in digital communities.

Take Shopee, for example. They have garnered success in Indonesia by offering attractive cash rewards, free shipping, and discounts. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, Shopee dethroned Tokopedia as the No. 1 e-marketplace in the country.


Insights from a local marketing expert

For advertisers seeking further growth in Indonesia, timing matters. Tailor your marketing strategies to capitalize on festivities to drive conversion and growth.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is Indonesia’s most celebrated traditional festival. During Ramadan, e-commerce apps see the most significant number of visits and games become a popular form of entertainment. During Ramadan, people have shorter working hours, tend to feel tired and hungry, and almost all physical shops are closed. Boredom therefore ensues, and the longing for fun games arises. Find out how to profit from Ramadan in our new e-book: DECODING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR IN RAMADAN: HOW BRANDS CAN RIDE ON THE WAVE?

Apart from Ramadan, the 25th of every month in Indonesia is payday, a golden business opportunity when people pay the bills, buy essentials, and can’t wait to splurge on things to treat themselves.

Contact the Nativex team today to start your journey to success!