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Jakarta Post

How Indonesians embrace the digital world

  • Emily Wong


Jakarta   /   Mon, March 18, 2019   /   04:03 pm
How Indonesians embrace the digital world Illustration of online shopping. (Shutterstock/File)

It’s no secret Southeast Asians are avid internet users. There are some 415 million people spending their time on the Interweb at any given time in Southeast Asia, compared to 346 million in North America and 183 million in Western Europe, according to data compiled by Hootsuite and We are Social, both social media management and researchers.

What is perhaps less known is that region’s internet economy is largely being fuelled by Indonesia’s 150 million internet users, who spend an average of 8 hours and 36 minutes online every day — connecting, discovering, shopping and ride sharing.

Indonesia emerged as the global leader of online shopping with over 86 percent and 76 percent of internet users in Indonesia having made purchases on eCommerce and mCommerce platforms respectively. This is despite the relatively low penetration rate of 56 percent of the population using the internet, highlighting a massive potential for growth in the sector.

Indonesians that do use the internet, also spend a substantial amount of time on it. They averaged 8 hours and 36 minutes online per day, much more than the global average of 6 hours and 42 minutes. Time spent on social media also surpassed the global average, Indonesians spent 3 hours and 26 minutes browsing social platforms, the fourth highest globally.

In addition, Indonesian web surfers have also shown a demand for customization of their online experience by having the highest global adoption rate of ad blockers. This number jumped to 63 percent of Indonesian internet users, up from 50 percent last year.

Advertisers hoping to engage with an Indonesian audience will need to move into private digital spaces like messaging apps to focus on creating meaningful connections through high-value conversations.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, we have identified the key behaviours that will shape trends and developments in 2019.

The 8 hours and 36 minutes spent online per day makes Indonesia the fifth most digitally active country behind the Philippines, Brazil, Thailand and Colombia. Of the total time spent online, nearly half of that (3 hours and 26 minutes) is spent on social media, with Indonesians most active on YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s not even a stretch to say YouTube has become a well-entrenched habit and huge source of education among Indonesians. Every year, more Indonesians are heading to YouTube — and spending more time on the platform once they get there.

A 2017 study from research firm JakPat found tutorial channels were the most popular channel type for YouTube users, even more than those run by celebrities, influencers and entertainment studios.

Unfortunately, not all platforms are growing at the same pace. Our quarterly estimates show that Facebook’s monthly active users stayed flat even as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat’s user numbers inched up.

There are likely multiple reasons for the trend. People have more options than ever for staying in touch with friends and family, but beyond this we’re seeing a shift from public to private spaces, with users spending more time on messaging and less time sharing news on social. The result: The average engagement rate for video posts, photo posts and link posts on the platform fell steeply from a year ago.

This apparent exhaustion is further reinforced by the fact that Indonesians have the highest global adoption rate (63 percent) of ad blockers. Indeed, consumers don’t want more advertising channels. It is now crucial for smart brands to use messaging apps for more high-value conversations — not just another channel for interrupting people.

Online shopping is big business in Indonesia. E-commerce sites have been steadily climbing through the ranks over the course of the past year, and Alexa’s latest data puts Bukalapak and Tokopedia in the top 10 most visited websites.

The country emerged as the global leader of online shopping with more than 86 percent of users having purchased a product or service online; improved social technologies is one of the drivers contributing to this growth.

Social innovations like Instagram’s shoppable posts, Facebook’s marketplace and livestream shopping on WeChat are proving to be great for conversions. Successful brands are also going the extra mile to make shopping live, interactive, contextual and seamless — even on mobile devices.

All this McKinsey predicts will help Indonesia’s e-commerce market grow eight-fold to touch US$40 billion in 2022, with social commerce platforms bringing in an additional $25 billion. Brands that harness digital and social technologies will be at the forefront of this growth.


The writer is senior marketing manager for Asia at Hootsuite.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.