The 10 Most Important WhatsApp Statistics (2021)

Across the globe, WhatsApp is the standard for talking to friends and family members. With businesses looking for more ways to reach their customers, they're now entering the scene as well.

If you’re planning on using WhatsApp for business, for example, in customer service , sales or recruiting , you need to know who’s using it and how people spend their time on the app.

So what do the numbers tell us? We dug through the studies and collected the most important WhatsApp statistics in this post.

  1. WhatsApp users worldwide
  2. WhatsApp user demographics
  3. WhatsApp usage frequency
  4. Most popular WhatsApp features
  5. The most important mobile messaging apps
  6. Intentions for contacting a business on WhatsApp
  7. Reasons for contacting businesses on WhatsApp
  8. Tasks customers want to get done on WhatsApp
  9. Benefits of using WhatsApp Business
  10. How many businesses are using WhatsApp

But before we start, here’s a quick intro to WhatsApp.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a free messenger app that allows users to send text and voice messages, share files and other media as well as make voice and video calls.

Founded in California in 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp quickly became the new global mode of communication .

 Graph shwoing WhatsApp's exponential user growth from 2009 to 2013
Exponential growth of WhatsApp users from 2009 to 2013

In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $ 19 billion, a mega deal even by Silicon Valley standards. According to experts, reasons behind the purchase included WhatsApp’s high user engagement and its market dominance, especially in relevant countries in Europe and Latin America.

In spring 2018, Facebook launched the free WhatsApp Business App , introducing a WhatsApp solution for smaller businesses. The counterpart for larger businesses followed a few months later with the WhatsApp Business API , WhatsApp’s first paid service.

You can learn more about WhatsApp Business in these posts:

Now let’s take a look at the most interesting user numbers and statistics for WhatsApp.

1
WhatsApp users worldwide

In February 2020, WhatsApp reached the milestone of two billion monthly active users worldwide (WhatsApp, 2020). Since 2014, WhatsApp has been the leading mobile messaging app and is still continuing to grow.

diagram showing WhatsApp user growth in millions from 2013 to 2020
WhatsApp monthly active users (in millions). Source: WhatsApp

The second most popular messaging app is WhatsApp’s “competitor” Facebook Messenger with 1.3 billion users. WhatsApp alternative Telegram reaches 400 million users .

With more than 2 billion users, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app worldwide.

One of the factors that explain WhatsApp’s high and still increasing user numbers is the network effect . In short, the more users a platform has, the more valuable it becomes. This effect is especially at work with digital communication platforms such as WhatsApp: a platform that “everyone” uses and that allows you to easily reach all your contacts within a single application.

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

The benefits of using WhatsApp for business are clear. Almost every smartphone user has it installed and can be reached directly on the app. As WhatsApp is used across the globe, it’s a promising channel for businesses with an international customer base.

WhatsApp is optimized for different devices and works both on mobile, in the browser and on desktop with WhatsApp Web . Unlike other communication channels such as live chat, WhatsApp is not connected to a website or customer account, so it’s always available for the customer.

2
WhatsApp user demographics

Social media, smartphones and messenger apps aren’t just a fad for younger generations - they’re here to stay. In WhatsApp's case, it's now the most popular messaging apps for all age groups.

diagram showing WhatsApp usage by three different age groups
Internet users who use WhatsApp by age group. Source: Tyntec

This is where the network effect described above kicks in again. When the (grand)kids are using WhatsApp, the app becomes more interesting for their parents or grandparents as well. The WhatsApp group feature, in particular, makes it easy and convenient for families to stay in touch, bringing multiple generations together in one app. According to research , three quarters of children and teenagers said they have a WhatsApp group with their family (2019, mpfs).

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp for business

WhatsApp also plays a central part in the lives of older generations. In a study by the Federal Network Agency in Germany (2019), the participants said they like using WhatsApp because it’s so intuitive to use and it allows them to reach the majority of their contacts.

Unlike many hyped social media apps which older generations often "don’t get" (just think TikTok), WhatsApp’s user interface is focused on messaging which makes it simple and intuitive to use. Its core function, writing text messages, is not so different from the good old SMS. That makes it easy to navigate even for people who aren’t digital natives.

We’ve seen that the use of WhatsApp and other chat tools has significantly increased over the last years. It’s not just something millennials use – the expectations for communication channels have changed for older generations as well.

Christoph Münch, project manager at Witt Weiden

Many businesses that have an older target group are unsure about introducing modern communication channels such as live chat and messaging . But the high user numbers across all age groups show that messaging apps aren’t just limited to young audiences. This makes WhatsApp the ideal customer channel for reaching every generation.

3
WhatsApp usage frequency

WhatsApp isn’t one of those apps that people have installed and never use. On the contrary, it’s used frequently. A German study found that 75% of the population uses WhatsApp at least weekly, 63% even daily (ARD-ZDF-Onlinestudie, 2019). This lead is significant, especially when compared to apps such as TikTok (1%) or Instagram (13%).

75% use WhatsApp weekly

What’s also interesting is that WhatsApp is used across all age groups. Although the frequency declines with increasing age, WhatsApp still achieves high levels among older demographics.

diagram showing weekly use frequency of WhatsApp by different age groups
Weekly usage of WhatsApp in Germany (2019). Source: ARD-ZDF-Onlinestudie

In another study among younger adults, the participants said they receive on average 27 WhatsApp messages daily. With so many messages coming in, it can be expected that users open the app not only daily but several times throughout the day.

To understand why WhatsApp is used so frequently, we need to take a deeper look into biology. Triggers like new messages are known to release dopamine in our brain , a chemical that rewards and motivates behavior. We’re evolutionarily wired to desire dopamine, which explains the high usage of social media and messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp is aligned with people's texting habits. That’s why unlike writing an email or calling a hotline, reaching out to a business on WhatsApp feels convenient.

WhatsApp’s wide reach also makes it the ideal channel for receiving urgent notifications, for example, on a delayed flight or delivery updates.

4
Most popular WhatsApp features

WhatsApp is constantly evolving and new features are added, like the status feature similar to Instagram stories.

Despite this, the standard features are used the most. According to a Bitkom study (2018), 85% of the participants said they had texted with contacts in the past three months, followed by sending pictures, videos, gifs and links. 50% claimed to use messaging apps for calling.

diagram showing the most popular WhatsApp features in Germany
Participants who have used the following messaging features in the past three months. Source: Bitkom

Only 10% had contacted a business over WhatsApp before. However, this number has likely increased in the past years as the study was conducted when WhatsApp had just introduced solutions for using the channel for business use.

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

Users are regularly using WhatsApp to share text messages and files. This allows businesses to make use of these features in their communication as well without having to switch channels, for example, sending a PDF file of a contract or a photo of their product on WhatsApp.

Voice messages and video calls, however, aren’t widely accepted yet, which is why it makes sense for businesses to focus on written communication over WhatsApp for now.

5
The most important mobile messaging apps

We’ve learned that WhatsApp is frequently used but what value do people ascribe to the app? In a recent study among young adults, 88% of the participants said WhatsApp is the most important mobile app for them.

diagram showing young adults' most important mobile app with WhatsApp leading significantly
The most important mobile apps for young adults (up to three mentions). Source: JIM 2019

One of the benefits of WhatsApp compared to other popular apps such as Instagram or YouTube is that it doesn’t need much data, which is important for mobile use.

Then there’s the emotional factor. WhatsApp isn’t just an app that’s widely used, it’s “important” to its users. This emotional connection goes deeper than pure usability. This may also be explained by WhatsApp’s core function. While other apps may help you be more productive or entertain you when you’re bored, WhatsApp connects you with the people that matter to you.

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

When businesses talk to their customers on WhatsApp, they’re using a channel that has an emotional meaning to them. So customers are likely to be more receptive than when they're using email or phone - channels that evoke negative associations.

The other side of the coin, however, is that businesses should respect the significance that WhatsApp has for their customers and take concerns seriously, for example when it comes to data privacy.

6
Intentions for contacting a business on WhatsApp

WhatsApp is the most popular app for private communication. That’s what makes the app so interesting for business use as well.

In a survey in Switzerland , 31% of the participants said they would like to be able to communicate with businesses over WhatsApp. (2018, Xeit). Younger age groups showed themselves to be more open to this than older ones.

diagram showing intentions for using WhatsApp Business
Would you like to communicate with businesses/brands over WhatsApp (in percent). Source: Xeit

In a study by YouGov , 20% of the participants said that WhatsApp and chats with businesses were long overdue and that it should be standard for customer service.

20% think that WhatsApp and chats with businesses are long overdue

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

Both studies indicate that a significant number of consumers are open to using WhatsApp for talking to a business. As younger demographics show the highest interest, businesses could first experiment with campaigns targeting this age group.

However, there are some limitations you need to be aware of when looking at the results. WhatsApp didn’t introduce its services for business use until 2018, so at the time the studies were conducted, most people did not have actual experience in contacting a business on WhatsApp. This is where there may be a value-action-gap , a psychological phenomenon where intentions stated in studies don’t always correlate with actual behavior.

It’s clear we’ll need more studies, further down the line, to get a better understanding of consumers’ attitude toward WhatsApp. It can be expected that attitudes will change as people increasingly have positive experiences contacting businesses on WhatsApp.

7
Reasons for contacting businesses on WhatsApp

In a study by YouGov (2018), participants were asked about the reasons they’d like to contact businesses on WhatsApp.

With 54%, the number one reason customers wanted to message businesses was customer service, followed by pre-sales service with 42%. Only 12% could imagine using WhatsApp for recruitment purposes.

diagram showing intentions for using WhatsApp Business by different sectors
Intention for using WhatsApp to contact a business by area (in percent). Source: YouGov

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

The results of this study are also limited because they’re based on intentions, not actual experiences. WhatsApp for customer support is the most obvious use because consumers are already used to talking to businesses via conversational solutions such as live chat or social media.

What’s more, contacting customer support is often frustrating for consumers because of slow response times on more traditional customer channels like phone and email support. A direct, conversational channel like WhatsApp has the potential to improve the customer experience.

The benefits WhatsApp could have in other sectors, however, might not be as intuitive. Although there are already some promising examples for using WhatsApp in recruiting , many participants might not know how this would look like.

With consumers increasingly using WhatsApp in different areas, their acceptance will likely grow. For now, we recommend using WhatsApp in customer service , a sector where customers are most likely to be open to using this new channel.

8
Tasks customers want to get done on WhatsApp

A Tyntec study (2019) goes in a similar direction but asks more specifically about tasks participants would like to get done on WhatsApp.

The majority mentioned tracking deliveries on WhatsApp, 50% wanted to set appointments, and 43% receive updates on delays and changes in their itinerary.

diagram showing preferred use cases for WhatsApp Business in percent
Preferred use cases for using WhatsApp for business (in percent). Source: Tyntec

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

Most people use WhatsApp every day. That’s why the app is the ideal channel for receiving critical information, such as delivery updates or flight delays. Customers don’t need to actively check their account and businesses won’t risk their emails drowning in the recipient’s inbox or spam folder. Messages are directly sent to the customer’s phone.

39% said they’d use WhatsApp in customer service instead of waiting in line on the phone, one of the most common frustrations in traditional support .

Waiting in line isn’t just annoying, it also takes up time. The WhatsApp Business API’s pricing model encourages businesses to reply within 24 hours as only replies in that time frame are free of charge. That’s why customers can expect a faster response when contacting a business on WhatsApp than with email support.

The different customer channels have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Messaging apps like WhatsApp won’t replace other channels completely. Talking on the phone is often more effective for solving complex requests, while chatting can be prone to misunderstandings . But for many simple tasks, personal contact via phone is not necessary, for example, scheduling an appointment or buying tickets. Here, WhatsApp is the preferred channel as it’s more efficient and convenient both for businesses and their customers.

9
Benefits of using WhatsApp for business

We’ve discussed possible uses for using WhatsApp in customer communication. But what benefits do people see in contacting a business via WhatsApp?

According to a study by YouGov (2018), participants named not having to wait in line on the phone as the major benefit. Being independent of opening hours was also seen as an advantage. On WhatsApp, people can reach out to businesses at any time of the day.

diagram showing the perceived benefits of using messenger apps like WhatsApp for talking to businesses
Benefits of using messenger apps when talking to businesses (in percent). Source: YouGov

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

Sharing files and images is easily done on WhatsApp. This can be quite helpful when explaining issues in customer service.

WhatsApp is also free of charge for its users. Unlike calling a hotline where customers often have to pay per minute, they don’t have to fear any costs when reaching out to a business on WhatsApp. That’s especially relevant when contacting a business in another country, where costs for international calls tend to quickly skyrocket.

10
How many businesses are using WhatsApp

Originally developed as an app for private messaging, WhatsApp has evolved into a promising solution for businesses as well. Worldwide, more than 50 million businesses are using WhatsApp Business (2020, Wall Street Journal), tenfold the number the service had the year before.

WhatsApp Business reaches 50 million users worldwide

What the numbers tell you about using WhatsApp Business

Digital channels are becoming increasingly important for customer communication. Still, at this point, only few businesses are using new solutions such as mobile messaging. But while some are lagging behind, this poses an opportunity for innovative businesses to set themselves apart from their competition.

WhatsApp does not only offer potential in areas such as customer service but can also help make the recruiting process more efficient and personal. In sales , being in contact with prospects on WhatsApp is also promising, especially when you’re dealing with long sales cycles where building a connection is key.

Using WhatsApp Business can be a competetive advantage

More numbers on WhatsApp:


If you’re interested in using WhatsApp Business, we can take care of the setup for you with our messaging solution . Userlike is one of the leading business solutions for live chat and customer messaging.

For more information, take a look at our video or reach out to our team directly. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and to assisting you with getting your business on WhatsApp!