One of the biggest commonly debated topics as more aspects of our lives move online is the question of privacy. The nature of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, is specifically designed to be open in nature: you are encouraged to create more content and share everything you do with your friends.
Social Networks Online are Too Public, Users Turn to Alternative Channels Where They Have More Control Over Privacy
As social networks continue to gain popularity, there are increasing amounts of security issues in the online world. This gives rise to various secondary niche social networks, to be specific, closed or private couple social network apps, such as Between, LoveByte, Pairy, or Couple, which enable people to share information with only the people they want to: their other half. Over the past few years, these apps have thrived in user growth and usage.
VCNC, an initialism for Value Creators & Company, was founded in 2011 and has offices in South Korea and Japan with teams in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. VCNC’s vision is “to provide emotional communication services to enrich real, offline-based relationships”. Between is VCNC’s third application and VCNC announced earlier this week that strong growth has seen the app crossing 7.3 million users worldwide. In Japan, Between hits its first million users too. For Southeast Asia, Between has exceeded 450,000 downloads where the 3 biggest user bases are Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, respectively. All 3 countries share similar active user rates (MAU/Total Users).
However, users from these 3 countries show different behaviours, such as Thailand being more heavy on photo uploads; whereas Malaysian users show more affinity towards the “Memos” feature (Notes allows users to share longer messages, usually done during special occasions like anniversaries).
Mobile Apps Find Opportunities in Mobile Shopping
At the same time, VCNC is launching an e-commerce store for users in South Korea. With 60% of users based in South Korea, VCNC is taking the next step in monetising the Between platform.
Working with South Korean local partners such as 10×10 and Wincube Marketing, Between is increasingly seen by brands and advertisers as a platform to target and engage couples. The partnership with 10×10, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms which has physical stores all over Korea, gives a clear sign indication that brands and advertisers do buy into the idea of mobile shopping and are not shy to try out new distribution channels where there are high users.
Growth in Popularity of Mobile Shopping
For the e-commerce store, Between is launching a “Gift Shop” and “Mobile Coupon Shop”. In the Gift Shop, Between will be selling physical goods that can be delivered to users and their partners. The shop also provides recommendations for gift ideas when users face trouble in buying the perfect gift for their partner. In the Mobile Coupon Shop, Between will be selling mobile coupons that users can gift to their partners, such as sweet chocolates or an Americano.
The Gift Shop has a wide variety of categories which users can choose from such as accessories, jewelry, and kitchenware that ‘She’ might like, to sporting goods and electronics that ‘ He’ might like. Reflecting the diversity of products, the prices range from sweets that cost less than a dollar to jewelry that cost close to 1,000 US dollars.
From late 2010, mobile commerce only made up 3% of e-commerce; however since then, that percentage has been increasing slowly but surely. Mark Beccue, a senior analyst of Allied Business Intelligence Inc., which is an Internet technology research company, has urged online retailers to start being more active in mobile commerce because it was becoming very popular and smart merchants would have started their future in mobile commerce.
The growth of mobile shopping is unsurprising for some as it has proven to be a successful model for popular messaging app, LINE. Known for its stickers, users have been purchasing sticker packs from its virtual mobile stickers stores, generating a total of 34.3 billion yen ($338 million) in annual revenue for LINE in 2013.
Between has also taken a page from this and introduced their own sticker store to their users in January 2013. The launch of its new “Gift Shop” and “Mobile Coupon Shop” are merely an enhancement to the overall experience for its users.
“I have purchased stickers from the Between sticker store, as I find the animation and stickers really adorable, especially the ones from HJ Story,” said Carmen Yong, an avid Between user when asked if she has bought anything from any of her mobile apps. Carmen also added on that she is receptive of the idea of the “Gift Shop” and “Mobile Coupon Shop”, and that “if the gifts are suitable, she would not mind buying them for her other half”.