In a country that is mobile-centric, can a mobile-only approach work?

By Sushant Tomar – Country Director, India


India. A mobile-first country and one of the fastest-growing economies worldwide. Over the past few years, internet connectivity in the country has boomed thanks to the rapid rollout of affordable 4G and to the competitive price of mobile devices. Given the increasing number of mobile users, the app space has grown quickly and Indian companies have started offering app-only propositions to reach larger audiences. Ranking second globally in terms of app downloads, India is forecasted to count 37.2 billion downloads a year by 2022. Apps are a great tool for marketers as they create loyalty, engagement, long-term value (LTV) and data which can be used for re-targeting and optimization. However, the app-only approach hasn’t proven to be a winning strategy just yet, not even in a mobile-first country like India. What are the reasons behind this delayed success and how can this approach work in the future?

Today’s connected consumers

Forcing customers to engage with brands solely through app has proved to be ineffective for multiple reasons. Firstly, because of the immense app variety to which users are accustomed. Today’s customers are spoiled for choice and can find dozens of app alternatives for whatever they are looking for. This leads to low customer loyalty and reduced retention rates. Secondly, because of the number of apps used every day. According to a report by AppAnnie, users access on average 30 apps a month but only use 10 of them per day. Moreover, everyday users spend 77% of their time using only 3 out of those 10 apps. Catching and maintaining the attention of users has become difficult and brands must cope with increasingly distracted customers. Lastly, it’s important to remember that nowadays, users have an average of 3-4 connected devices and are unlikely to stick only to mobile. Today’s connected consumers are multi-screen and brands must be everywhere to reach them.

Be where your customers are

India is a mobile-first country, but definitely not a mobile-only one. While mobile devices are penetrating the market at an incredibly fast speed, customers are unlikely to interact with brands solely through their mobile. Keeping a strategy based on both mobile and broader digital media is fundamental. A great example of this mixed proposition is video streaming platform Netflix, which recently introduced a mobile-only subscription plan allowing its Indian users to access videos from their mobile devices at a cheaper price. Launching this plan next to its standard offering, Netflix tried to attract specific mobile audiences diversifying from competitors in the market. Positioning its brand where customers are and adapting to their behaviours has proved to be successful for Netflix which is planning to launch the same mobile subscription in other markets. With customers using multiple internet devices per day and engaging only with a few apps on a regular basis, it is brands who must make sure to be where they are in order to push conversion – not the other way around.

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