With a population of about 268.2 million people, Indonesia holds incredible opportunities for local startups and foreign enterprises aiming to penetrate the market.

The rate of internet and social media use are rapidly climbing, with one survey recording 150 million active internet users in 2018 – an increase of 4.70 percent from the previous year. Indonesia is dominated by the younger generation, side by side a growing middle-and-affluent-consumer class, who are tech-savvy and eager to spend their money on purchasing new products and services.

This article will discuss Indonesia’s digital marketing environment, its biggest channels, industry challenges and opportunities, as well as the best possible ways on how to reach the Indonesian audience.  

Indonesia’s Digital Marketing Landscape

Indonesia is perhaps one of the most important internet markets in Southeast Asia due to its sheer size, developing middle class, and digitally savvy population.

According to We Are Social’s annual global digital ecosystem report in 2019, Indonesia has 150 million internet users, which means that the penetration rate is 56% of the population. These internet users use some form of social media, showing how connected Indonesians are when it comes to documenting their lives online or using platforms like YouTube to consume content.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2019-indonesia-january-2019-v01

With more than half of the Indonesian population online, there is an enormous potential for e-commerce ventures, smartphone manufacturers, as well as brands building products to attract millennials in the country.

Amongst other countries in the Southeast Asian region, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, Indonesia may have a lower internet penetration rate in comparison. However, these countries have smaller populations and can’t compete with Indonesia when it comes to volume. In effect, these figures have enticed investors to take notice.

A study conducted by Google and AT Kearney found that venture capital activity in Indonesia has increased by 68 times in the past five years, triggered mainly by the rising interest in e-commerce and ridesharing. The total venture capital activity in the first eight months of 2017 was logged at US$3 billion – more than twice the figure for the entirety of 2016, which was US$1.4 billion.

Source: https://ecommerceiq.asia/indonesia-internet-market-overview/

Indonesians are very active on the internet, with 79% of survey respondents in the We Are Social report saying that they log on to the web at least once a day. The average daily time spent online was 8 hours and 36 minutes with roughly around 5 hours dedicated to social media and streaming music.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2019-indonesia-january-2019-v01

The bulk of web traffic in Indonesia are coming from mobile phones, enabled by the accessibility of inexpensive smartphones to the Indonesian populace going online for the first time, bypassing desktops and PCs directly.

Access to mobile has also initiated enthusiasm toward financial technology since only 49% of Indonesians own bank accounts and only 2.4% have credit cards. If e-wallet platforms are established successfully, there are 125 million mobile internet users waiting for easy banking.

Indonesians are also progressively using the internet for online shopping as a survey found that 93% of Indonesian netizens search online for a product or service to buy, with 90% landing on an online store, and 86% make e-commerce transactions at least once a month.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2019-indonesia-january-2019-v01

Based on these statistics, the Indonesian market still holds a lot of potential for growth.

Biggest Channels

According to the We Are Social Report for 2018 by Hootsuite, the most popular and active social media platforms in Indonesia are YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and LINE.


Results of a survey commissioned by market research firm Jakpat in 2017 indicated that 54 percent of Indonesians use YouTube to view content on tutorial videos. These results are in line with Google’s research, which found that in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia, being on YouTube has turned out to be a social activity that involves shared interests, such as viewing makeup tutorials.

Source: https://www.techinasia.com/digital-marketing-channels-indonesia


With over 130 million active users in 2018, businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods and e-commerce industries take up a major share of Facebook engagement.

Among the other platforms listed, Facebook stands out as being the one having the most frequent daily use by Indonesians. Furthermore, Facebook also serves as a social marketplace and launching pad for buyers in the country, of which 40 percent use Facebook to look for product information and recommendations.

Recommendations are particularly important since 31 percent of Indonesian Facebook users are influenced by recommendations in making their purchase decisions. More discussions are even generated by these reviews as consumers use the platform to share their shopping experience and purchase.


The report by Hootsuite shows that WhatsApp outranks Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps when it comes to monthly active users in Indonesia.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2019-indonesia-january-2019-v01

Since the release of the instant messaging service’s official WhatsApp Business app in January 2017, local businesses have been expected to use the platform in communicating with their customers. Moreover, due to its integration into Facebook and Instagram, social media users can easily make inquiries to businesses through WhatsApp, enabling marketers to build a list of high-potential leads.


Instagram is massively popular in Indonesia. As a matter of fact, the country ranks fourth in the world in terms of monthly active users.

Facebook, which is the platform’s parent company, also offers insights that could prove Instagram’s influence on shopping behavior, especially during the holiday seasons during which 86 percent of holiday consumers in Indonesia use the app for shopping ideas.

In addition, Instagram Stories has also established itself in the Indonesian market. Survey results indicate that 62 percent use Stories to browse content, while only 38 percent use the regular Instagram feed. This is due to Indonesians’ preference for Instagram Stories’ authentic and ephemeral nature, which lets them be “real” in their communications with friends and family.


In June 2017, LINE, a Japanese instant messaging app, launched a dedicated news platform for the Indonesian market called LINE Today. The move was part of LINE’s strategic effort to cultivate brand loyalty and diversify its services since Indonesia has roughly 90 million active users – placing it next to Taiwan and Thailand as the app’s top three overseas markets.

Source: https://www.techinasia.com/digital-marketing-channels-indonesia

Challenges and Opportunities

Unity in diversity

Source: https://www.wowshack.com/a-cool-map-illustrating-ethnic-diversity-in-indonesia/

Indonesia also presents some distinct obstacles and challenges for business owners and marketers. For instance, being an archipelagic country means that 265 million people are distributed across 17,500 islands, each one with varying tastes and preferences. This extent of diversity suggests that marketing tactics that work in one city, such as the country capital Jakarta, may not necessarily work for another urban center like Surabaya.

As a matter of fact, a study conducted by McKinsey & Company indicated that consumer behavior in Jakarta is less likely to be influenced by branding and image in contrast to Surabaya. In addition, the consumers in Surabaya are also reported as more likely to seek recommendations from family and friends prior to making purchasing decisions, especially when it comes to fast-moving consumer goods.

Mobile marketing is the new frontier

Source: https://www.techinasia.com/indonesia-web-mobile-statistics-we-are-social

With over 132 million internet users, Indonesia is anticipated to be the fourth largest internet market by 2020 based on the number of users. Furthermore, majority of the web traffic in the country is through mobile with 72 percent. Thus, Indonesia offers numerous opportunities for brands looking to connect to a new, mobile-centric consumer base, and it is also worthy of attention for other developing markets.

A study conducted by Google and Ipsos found that the rising usage of smartphones influences the shopping habits of Indonesians, and that mobile plays a major role in users’ online and in-store purchase behaviors. For instance, 98 percent of mobile users in Indonesia have researched brands and products on their smartphones, which often has an impact on their final purchases. Furthermore, 80 percent of Indonesians change their purchase decisions after consulting their smartphones.

Aside from having an impact on decision-making, smartphones have also changed the way Indonesians actually make their purchases with 59 percent of consumers making online purchases weekly and 39 percent doing so monthly.

In these circumstances, whenever consumers pick up their mobile devices with the aim of searching or making a purchase, brands have a tremendous opportunity to be present and be helpful with relevant content.

Upcoming trends in 2019

Source: https://www.techinasia.com/digital-marketing-channels-indonesia

In 2018, ephemeral content such as Instagram Stories, Facebook Messenger’s My Day, and Snapchat Stories made its mark in Indonesia. As a matter of fact, Samsung’s Indonesia team succeeded in using Instagram Stories to launch the Galaxy A 2017 series and strengthen its position in the mid-range smartphone space. Since mid-range phones are targeted primarily towards a younger generation of device users, Samsung Indonesia considered Instagram Stories as the ideal immersive ad platform to attract tech-savvy millennials.

The campaign’s inspired idea concentrated on the youth using the Samsung A7 as they went about their daily lives, emphasizing features such as water resistance and low-light camera performance using texts and emoji stickers. Businesses aiming to advertise on Instagram Stories need to tailor their content to the platform as well as the attitudes of the local audience using it, instead of forcing things the other way around.

For this year, it is anticipated that ephemeral content will keep on gaining popularity as more businesses adopt the format and integrating Instagram or Snapchat Stories directly to their e-commerce sites.

An increase in gamified marketing can also be expected, since Hago, a social gaming app, had 30 million downloads in Indonesia in 2018 alone. Furthermore, the number of Indonesian mobile game players is also anticipated to reach 100 million by 2020, providing advertising opportunities for local businesses.


To sum it up, Indonesia has a flourishing digital marketing landscape that holds tremendous potential for both local startups and international brands. With a diverse culture and population, achieving success in Indonesia when it comes to digital marketing is not a simple task. However, companies can successfully penetrate the market by maximizing opportunities provided by Indonesia’s biggest channels, mobile marketing, and upcoming trends, as well as overcoming the challenges presented by diversity.

To learn more about online marketing in Indonesia, contact us today at Info Cubic Japan.


Featured Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

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