LINE opened New York outlet to compete WhatsApp

LINE accelerates expansion into North America and strengthens the base of marketing activities to compete with WhatsApp. The mobile messenger service operator headquartered in Tokyo, Naver Corporation, opened a LINE Friends store in the busiest commercial area of Times Square in New York on Tuesday. The strategic move marks the first time an Asian character brand has opened a shop there.

Tinuku LINE opened New York outlet to compete WhatsApp

LINE is famous for bear and rabbit characters continue to have increasing popularity. The most widely used messenger apps in major Southeast Asian countries have secured more than 500 million registered users. The chat platform has the largest base in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

The service was established in 2011 and built LINE Friends as a separate entity by 2015 to open more than 80 merchandise stores in 11 countries. But so far failed to expand its online presence in North America by fierce competition with Facebook's WhatsApp.

In July 2016 LINE has a dual list in Tokyo and New York as part of an effort to raise its global profile. This strategy is critical for long growth over the years to find new growth areas in addition to sources of income in Asia.

Marking the one-year anniversary of an initial public offering (IPO), Naver Corporation opened a LINE Friends store in Times Square commercial area in New York on Tuesday to boost its brand identity with its sub-brand characters and look forward to attracting more North American users .

"LINE Friends main merchandise has attracted more than 300,000 visitors since its opening on July 21. New York store openings to accelerate our expansion into the global stage, help extend the victory beyond the main Asian markets," said a LINE official.

The company says this strategy is the first step to launch a series of other mobile services in the areas of shopping, advertising and payment. LINE has also made large digital light-emitting-diode (LED) signals outside the 430-square-meter store that is believed to help shape a strong brand identity for Americans.

"The opening of a flagship store is our first step to increase our global expansion especially into the American market. This is important where LINE Friends characters come from digital media, not from movies or TV," the company official said.

LINE generated 14.6 billion yen (US$132 million) in second-quarter operating profit or up 82.6 percent from a year earlier. In May, Naver established a business structure for its subsidiaries by incorporating SNOW into LINE.