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Apps Prove to Be a Lifeline for Consumers and Communities During COVID-19

4 min read

29 May 2020

We have all had to adapt, rather abruptly, to the new way of interacting – with our families, professional communities, and businesses we patronize. We have changed our daily routines and altered our consumption habits, and, in the process, mobile devices have emerged as somewhat of a lifeline keeping us connected with one another and with the goods and services we need and rely on. Here are a few stats on app usage during the pandemic.

Shopping from Home

According to a recent PYMNTS' 2020 Remote Payments Study, mobile devices are the most popular device for online shopping by a wide margin. 72% of consumers use their mobile devices to shop in stores. Statistics from the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019 show that people spent 20% more time using apps. During that time, consumers spent over $23 billion in app stores—the largest spend per quarter ever recorded.

A recent Morning Consult study found that 24% of consumers said they wouldn't feel comfortable shopping in a mall for more than six months, 16% said they would feel comfortable in the next three months. That means that companies have had to invest in their online platforms and remove obstacles and friction that cause customers or potential customers frustration or hesitation from engaging in e-commerce.

As companies scrambled to launch new business models and accommodate the shift in consumer dynamics, e-commerce and online retailers' supply chains, order pipelines, and fulfillment systems have seen a triple-digit surge in volume and revenue. Customers have pivoted to in-app and online ordering and expect a pleasant and seamless experience, whether it’s for home office supplies, crafts for the kids, Tuesday night’s dinner, dog food and toilet paper, on-demand movie nights, or access to their daily workouts, news, podcasts, or homework assignments. The in-app and online experience is now the brand experience.

Working from Home

As offices went remote and people turned to online platforms to conduct meetings and stay connected, video chat and online conference apps have seen explosive market growth. In North America, downloads of these apps increased 627% and daily active users (DAU) increased by 121%.

The now-ubiquitous video conferencing app Zoom expanded its worldwide user base by 300% in just under a month. Zoom family reunions, board meetings, high school classes, virtual story times, bible studies and happy hours can accommodate 500+ participants and has become an essential tool for communities. In the U.S., social media usage jumped from 20% of total mobile app usage in the early part of the year, to 25% in mid-March, and daily active users on Instagram and Facebook rose to 127 million and 195 million, respectively, between January and March.

Staying at Home

Travel and hospitality apps have seen a drastic reduction in use with downloads decreasing by 12%. However the entertainment/gaming app industry is seeing a boom as people access music, books, games, movies and TV through their mobile devices. A recent survey found that 21% of 18-25-year-olds were using music apps more frequently, 25% were using entertainment apps more, and 40% said they were playing mobile games more frequently.

In the video streaming space, the most popular apps were the major paid streaming video-on-demand companies -- Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix. Between March 8 and March 15, week-over-week installs of the Disney+ app were up 46%, while week-over-week installs of the Netflix app were up 55% between March 22 and March 29. Overall, 36% of respondents said COVID-19 will impact their media consumption and spending behaviors for the next two to three months. Between March and April, the biggest jump was in the share of survey respondents who said their behavior will be impacted for the next six to 12 months.

App Usage Stats of Note

As Visual Capitalist noted in a recent post, “…the pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are without technology—and how instrumental apps are in keeping us busy, informed, and sane.” Here are a few stats of note:

  • DoorDash—gained a 150k new users in April, the highest increase of any food delivery app
  • InstaCart – saw an increase of approximately 650% in new users in the U.S. in March & April
  • HouseParty –reported 50 million new installs between March and April, making it the #1 social video app in 82 countries
  • MyChart – the medical records management app is now is the #1 medical app in the U.S. Apple store and #8 in the Google Play store
  • Netflix – experienced a 19.5% increase in downloads between March and April 

While apps have been changing the landscape for years now, this new surge in mobile reliance should be considered the new norm

Topics: Mobile Insights

Written by Bridget Gorman