Real estate agents are starting to use them as their main marketing platform, some use them for crowdfunding and others raise business capital.

One Chinese student, 19-year-old Becca Zhang, received $670 from donors to buy a pet after posting that she wanted a puppy companion because she was missing family and felt lonely in Auckland.

More people are turning to Asian chat apps, like WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk, to sell and raise funds - and experts say they are the future of marketing.

Massey University China specialist, Associate Professor Henry Chung, said Asian apps, such as WeChat, were popular tools for marketing and crowdfunding because the results were "instantaneous".


"The almost instant reaction is probably the biggest attraction," Dr Chung said.

"Donors do not need to go to the bank or do online transfer, they can conduct their donation by simply clicking on the WeChat 'hongbao' red packet and specify the amount.

"The donation message or request can also be forwarded to a WeChat user's contacts ... the snowballing effect is enormous."

With over a billion created accounts, 700 million active users and more than 70 million outside of China, the China-developed WeChat service is one of the largest standalone messaging apps.

Speakers at a forum on Wednesday, organised by Social Media Club Auckland, suggested that Asian apps were the future of marketing and centre of the cybereconomy.

Earlier this year, a student in China, Papi Jiang, pursuing a master's degree in directing at China's Central Academy of Drama, reportedly secured a joint investment of 12 million yuan ($2.59 million).

She did so by uploading original and funny short videos on websites, including WeChat.

"In many ways, Asian apps show the way to the future of marketing, these include trends that started in Asia but are becoming global trends," said forum organiser Simon Young.

"People worldwide are spending less time broadcasting, for example Facebook updates, and more time in private groups or one-to-one chats."

Although many of these apps are kept within their ethnic communities and language bases, their reach is still massive, he said.

Mr Young is also chief executive of syEngage, and runs training webinars on how to use WeChat for business.

"WeChat has struggled to internationalise, and remains the easiest way to reach Chinese people anywhere in the world."

James Law, principal agent for James Law Realty, said his firm used WeChat as its primary marketing tool.

The company recently sold about 300 Hobsonville sections to mainly Chinese buyers through WeChat.

Last July, about 50 Chinese buyers snapped up 23 sections within minutes of its release, following a post by the agency on the messaging app.

"We sell mainly to Chinese clients, so WeChat is way more effective than even TradeMe or any other media," Mr Law said.

"It gives us a reach of 35,000, but more importantly, we can tailor each of our posts to hit specific groups."

Jenna Wu's three-minute video raised the $1200 she needed to attend a leadership forum in Wellington. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jenna Wu's three-minute video raised the $1200 she needed to attend a leadership forum in Wellington. Photo / Jason Oxenham