The Rise of WhatsApp

from messaging app to purchasing tool in Brazil

WhatsApp is already a phenomenon in Brazil.

The popularity of the smartphone messaging app in the region, Brazilian users habits and the new usages of the app as a strategic business tool are the topics addressed in this LABS special content.

By Priscila Fenelon and Vinicius Torresan

The fourth largest internet market in the world loves to share photos, audios, videos and messages whenever they can.

LABS Group
4:21 PM



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Whether because of the possibility of communicating with different groups or being able to have a secure, private talk, people in Brazil can't live without WhatsApp (or Whats, Zap Zap, or Zap, for short) anymore.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that WhatsApp changed the way people talk to each other in Brazil.

Ever since its launch in 2009, the tool has intensified the use of instant messaging and made communicating easier for families, friends, and even companies.

In this special content, LABS reunites information on how Brazilians use the app and some insights on how companies can use it strategically to improve sales and customer relationship.

Devices used to access the internet
  • 95 mobile phone
  • 64 computer
  • 16 tablet

SOURCE: IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2016.

Main online activities
  • 94Sending or receiving texts, voice messages or images through apps
  • 76Watching videos, TV shows, and movies
  • 73Talking through video calls
  • 69Sending or receiving emails
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A latest generation mobile phone is not required in order
to download WhatsApp

All it takes is a smartphone that has internet access. Besides being free, the app's rise has stretched out to areas of low connectivity, reaching an expressive number of Brazilians.

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It is also more cost effective
than a call or SMS

To get an idea, the price of an SMS in Brazil has cost almost 55 times more than one in the United States. WhatsApp, however, requires only a mobile number and, in Brazil, it usually integrates zero-rating plans - the ones that exempt particular apps from data consumption.

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Accessible and popular,
the tool is used today by 9 in each 10 Brazilians who are connected to the internet.

According to the company's own advertisement, the country is one of its main markets and has 120 million monthly active users. If each user were a single person, the number of users would be the equivalent of Mexico's entire population.

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WhatsApp is almost
an addiction:

Brazilians check the phone to see if they have gotten a text message, audio, photo or video at least 12 times a day

SOURCE: Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2018
The new national passion joined this group
The reasons why the app is the new "sweetheart" of Brazilians are many: low cost, the practicality when it comes to talking to people, keeping in touch with relatives that live far away, voice and video calls and other possibilities that make the lives of its users a lot easier.
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Luana Baroni, a 19-year-old student, for example, stays connected virtually 24 hours a day. She and her boyfriend can't meet in person every day. Distance is softened by the "Whats" app. "My boyfriend and I, we call each other all the time through Whatsapp without paying anything", she says. 4:42 PM
Stanley Mc Crownford joined the group
Sitting on a bench at Passeio Público de Curitiba, a public park in the capital of Paraná, Stanley Mc Crownford was checking WhatsApp notifications on his phone. He had used the app to remind someone of a bank deposit and, in a few minutes, the money was in his bank account. For him, the agility makes "Zap" the perfect communication tool for the daily life.
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"I don't use blogs, I don't use Instagram, I don't use Face [Facebook], I don't use Google or Orkut, or anything of the kind. I only use WhatsApp. I find it very practical." Stanley Mc Crownford, 60, retired. 6:21 PM

The keyword is


Unlike social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, in the land of Whatsapp, secrecy reigns. And, in a way, privacy.


consider Whatsapp the safest app to exchange messages

SOURCE: Datafolha, 2017

Whether used for solving small problems or making big decisions, the app speeds up the hiring and scheduling of services. "I hired almost every service for my wedding through WhatsApp", tells Ana Carolina Bittencourt. She says that her first contact with service providers was made through the app, which made the party's planning much easier.

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Ana Carolina Bittencourt says: The meetings happened after many conversations through WhatsApp. You are able to talk to many providers at the same time, and then you can choose the ones who better catered to your needs for a personal visit 4:21 PM

Ana Carolina's case points to a market opportunity: if most Brazilians are on WhatsApp, companies should also follow suit.

Hecílio Cardoso, a 43-year-old business owner, saw a boom after the app's massification. He used it to communicate with lovers of Uruguayan meat - a product he sells. The entrepreneur uses his broadcast list - a feature that allows users to send one message to several contacts at once - on a weekly basis in order to offer products to his clients.

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Hercílio Cardoso says: WhatsApp revolutionized my sales 4:21 PM

WhatsApp has also a place of privilege in Guilherme Prado's business, owner of a clothing store in the center of Curitiba.

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Guilherme do Prado says: We don't even have a landline anymore (...) WhatsApp is more straightforward, the person knows if the other has seen the message or not. If they want to, they can reply right away, if not, they can do it later. The communication is more direct, and this is the main point 4:21 PM

55% of WhatsApp users in Brazil

say that they use the app to communicate with brands and companies

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  • 73% use the app to clear doubts or ask information
  • 56% seek companies on WhatsApp for technical support
  • 53% receive sales promotions through WhatsApp
  • 46% buy products through the app
  • 42% buy services


Waiting for an email or a phone call stopped making sense with WhatsApp's instantaneity at hand. This agility quickly caught the attention of companies, which organically turned to the app for carrying their business. Facing this demand, the app developed Whatsapp Business.

Launched in Brazil in January of 2018, the business version of Whatsapp optimized functionalities and favoured a more direct contact with consumers.

In Whatsapp Business, the profile can be filled in with useful information aimed at clients, such as the company's description, physical address, website and email.

A world of


Companies should never forget this very important rule: never get in touch with clients before a previous contact initiated by them - be it a register, a purchase or a request. "Whats" is an intimate space in which users share feelings, affection and confidential information. Entering that space without permission, or worse, without anything concrete to offer, can be a fatal mistake.

40% of users would stop using the app if they started getting frequent unsolicited messages (spam) from brands and companies.

SOURCE: Mensageria no Brasil, 2018

By avoiding this mistake, Whatsapp can be a world of opportunities for companies that wish to grow in the Brazilian market. The app's popularization is a true phenomenon in the country, a scenario that's been stimulating very creative initiatives.

Hellmann's, for example, has straightened bonds with its Brazilian consumers by betting on a simple but innovative campaign. Through the projects WhatsCook, chefs helped customers to prepare a special recipe with what they had available in their fridges, all through WhatsApp. Clients simply had to text a picture of the food to the brand and then, service began.

Initiatives like this show that offering services is just one of WhatsApp's possibilities. With expressive numbers in Brazil, the app is a land to be explored. For companies, the ideal is to align marketing and communication strategies to the profile and needs of their clients.

LABS says: How about sending them a Zap right now? 7:32 PM
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