New study finds emerging markets are driving rapid social networking growth and a shift to live video and voice interaction


BEIJING, CHINA – Media OutReach – 10 May 2021 – Demand from young populations in emerging markets is driving rapid global social networking market growth and a concurrent shift to live video and voice applications. These findings come from new research released by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company.

Frost & Sullivan’s report, entitled Social Networking in Emerging Markets, finds that the global live social market—which refers to social networking applications that focus on live video and voice interaction—is expected to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.6% to more than triple in size from 19.7 billion USD in 2019 to 64.1 billion USD in 2024. In the same period, live social revenue from emerging markets is forecast show a significantly higher CAGR of 41.7% to rise from 1.5 billion USD in 2019 to 8.6 billion USD in 2024.

Emerging markets drive substantial live social market growth

Emerging markets in Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and Africa are driving an increasingly large proportion of this live social market growth. Young populations, rapid economic growth, and advanced mobile internet technology rollout mean growth in these markets is on track to significantly outpace the global average.

“We expected to find strong social networking market growth in emerging markets, but were surprised to see how quickly the contribution of these markets is increasing, particularly in the live social space,” said Gabriel Lu, Partner at Frost & Sullivan. “The proportion of global live social revenue arising from emerging markets is forecast to grow from 7.6% in 2019 to 13.4% in 2024 as these markets account for a higher portion of live social market growth. Apps such as Uplive and Bigo are increasingly delivering products tailored to meet the needs of young users in emerging markets.”

Whereas the global median age was 30.9 years in 2019, Malaysia’s was 30.3 years, Indonesia’s was 29.7 years, India’s was 28.4 years, and the Philippines’ was just 25.7 years. Large population bases and high proportions of younger generations in emerging markets jointly point to huge potential user bases for social networking. The combined social networking user base in emerging markets is approximately 1.6 billion, which is about 60% larger than the user base in developed economies (the US and Western Europe).

This young population profile combines with still spotty mobile internet coverage in many of these markets to represent significant social media market growth potential, especially when compared to relatively mature developed markets. For example, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa alone account for approximately 67% of the world’s total population without access to mobile broadband internet connections.

Live social dating market grows as culture and technology evolves

Rapid live social market growth is not only being felt in the live video and voice segments, but is also driving explosive growth in the online dating market. The online dating market was worth 5.4 billion USD globally in 2019 and is forecast to show a CAGR of 23.8% to reach 15.7 billion USD by 2024.

Live social dating growth in emerging markets is on track to far exceed that of developed markets. Emerging markets accounted for just 11.1% of global online dating revenue in 2019, but above-average growth means that they should account for 18.2% of revenue by 2024.

Gabriel explained, “Users in emerging markets generally prefer face-to-face communication to traditional text messaging, which still dominates most developed market dating apps. For example, cultural and religious customs in some emerging markets might frown upon in-person dating, leading young people to engage in relationships that are primarily or entirely carried out via video and voice chat.”

Major live social dating segment players in these markets include: Tinder, Badoo, Happn, Lamour, and Azar.

Strong demand drivers point to continued growth in emerging markets

As young users increasingly demand video- or voice-based live social networking, social and economic factors suggest that emerging markets will continue to be the key drivers of global social networking market growth. These factors include: young populations; rapid economic growth; increasing internet penetration; mobile internet technology upgrades; and growing willingness to pay for online services.

About Frost & Sullivan:

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 60 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community.



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