Time spent in-app is up as consumers get comfortable with subscriptions

Mobile’s expansion is prolific, impacting every business in every industry by changing consumers’ daily habits through gradual, seemingly small changes to everyday transactions. Paul Barnes, MD, EMEA at app analytics firm, App Annie takes us through the changes.

From the way we consume content to how we bank, shop and date, 2019’s consumers are used to reaching for their mobile as a remote control for life. 2018 was another record-breaking year, with 194 billion app downloads, an astounding $101 billion in consumer spend globally and the average user now spends up to 3 hours a day in apps.

What’s perhaps most interesting is not that we’re heading full speed into another record-breaking year of mobile growth, but how this growth has largely been fuelled. It seems we’re becoming more comfortable than ever before at renting instead of owning in more areas than the housing market. From gym subscriptions to subscription boxes, from paying for more swipes on Tinder to streaming subscriptions, ‘rent-it-now’ is the new have-it-now generation driving – according to App Annie’s analyst’ predictions for 2019 – a $122 billion app economy, set to become double the size of the global sneaker market.

Subscriptions in 2019 will become the primary model of app payments and are already driving growth of non-gaming apps.

2019 consumers are less focussed on owning content and products, and increasingly intent on access to the latest trends. The generation that has had to rent instead of buy the roof over their head, is channeling that mentality into other areas of their lives when it comes to spending.

Subscriptions in 2019 will become the primary model of app payments and are already driving growth of non-gaming apps.  Non-gaming apps only accounted for 26% of consumer spend, but this was up from 18% in 2016 and largely due to the growth of in-app subscriptions.

Entertaianment hubs

2019 is also the year where mobile becomes our ultimate entertainment hub. Time spent in apps is set to to hit 1.5 trillion hours globally in 2019 on Android phone up 135% from 5 years prior. That’s driven by the growth in Video Players and Editors and Communication (messaging) apps. Smartphones are evolving from a swiss army knife for life into an entertainment hub.

The iOS app store anniversary report revealed the most lucrative iphone app of all time was Netflix, and social media apps dominated top rankings charts. We expect to see subscription-based companies, especially in music and video streaming, experiment with fragmented payment models that cater to users who spend the majority of their time using these services on the go on mobile. Netflix is already testing mobile-only subscriptions, reiterating that mobile is our primary entertainment platform.

This evolution in consumer spending on mobile is impacting all industries, from travel and retail through to banking, health and fitness and even dating.

Bank to the future

Banking apps are dramatically altering consumer behavior. While you may not have walked into a bank branch every day of the week, you effectively are on mobile — in the UK consumers are, on average, checking their bank accounts at least daily. This is completely new behavior, and likely would not have existed without mobile.  In 2018, users in the UK checked their bank apps over 7x a week, a reflection of the UK as a fintech hub.

The rise of banking and fintech apps enables consumers to have more accessibility at their fingertips — to cash a cheque, check their balances, invest in stocks, transfer money to friends or overseas, to manage our budget, to track and pay our bills and more.

In 2018, users in the UK checked their bank apps over 7x a week.

It gives consumers more power and choice to be as involved as they want to be in managing their personal finance, with unprecedented access and ability to act on financial plans. It also gives them access to consumer lending at their fingertips and even microloan alternatives to traditional credit. Mobile provides increasing avenues of choice to empower consumers in their financial decisions.

With our new financial agility, we’re also spending differently. Global time spent in shopping apps grew to 18 billion hours in 2018, up 60% from 2016 and time spent in Shopping apps correlated strongly with e-Commerce sales – meaning driving people to mobile is proving lucrative for retailers. Interestingly, we’re also selling more to each-other, with Peer-to-Peer marketplaces the second most popular way to shop on mobile in 2018.

With more money being spent on mobile, not only does it prove mobile is the primary platform but it also gives businesses more opportunity to engage with customers and to delight along the way.

In the same breath, it’s crucial that the mobile experience you offer is a spotless shop window – especially if you’re trying to attract Gen Z (aged 16-24). Gen Z is driving the growth in time spent in non-gaming apps. Gen Z engages 30% more on average with their most used non-gaming apps than those aged 25 and older and generally spend 20% more time overall in apps.  Mobile is non-negotiable to any business hoping to attract this demographic.

Paul Barnes, MD, EMEA, App Annie


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