Covid-19, the pandemic, has led to unprecedented disruptions in the daily lives of people all over the world. Self-quarantine is the only effective way to battle the current state of affairs and work-from-home is the mantra being adopted at scale.
Mobile browsing app activity shoots up by 37 per cent
It goes without saying that the mobile phone becomes the most used and effective device which not only keeps people connected but also aids in working from home. It’s not surprising then that data collected during the months between January 2020 and March 2020 by InMobi, point towards the fact that mobile browsing app activity has shot up by a whopping 37 per cent in India. According to a Nielsen and BARC study, the time spent by users on smartphones in the second week of the disruption has increased by 3 hours per week, a gain of 12 per cent. These are the months during which the pandemic was wrecking-havoc in many parts of the world and also in India forcing people into self-isolation.
Books and comic apps have seen a surge of 200 per cent since kids are learning at home with schools being shut down. That’s not all, leading Indian comics have made their archives available for free for a month. Education apps like Byjus, Unacademy and Vedantu are offering free access to their course materials and they have also seen a significant increase in their user base.
Meanwhile, video and Image editing apps have seen a 60 per cent surge in usage and gaming apps have grown to the tune of 110 per cent. Time spent per user in a week on news apps grew by 45 per cent in the second week of disruption. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Tik Tok have also seen a surge in terms of engagement. User generated content has also seen a massive increase with many using the ‘live’ tool to reach out to people at large. Social media influencers can be engaged by brands now than ever before to create narratives and content to promote their brands as the reach now will be more than before.
Video calling built into apps like Instagram and WhatsApp and Google Hangouts app are being used more than ever before and Zoom video app has seen a sharp rise in its share prices due to the sudden surge in user downloads.
The apps which have been affected unfavourably during the pandemic are shopping, travel apps and food apps. Marketers should use this opportunity to connect with their customers through apps which have seen a mammoth increase in usage. Being interactive and creative will reap maximum dividends for the brands.
E-commerce platforms will influence consumption and buying patterns in the future
E-commerce platforms like Grofers and Big Basket selling personal cleaning products, antiseptic liquids, anti-bacterial liquids, wipes, hygiene products, daily-use essentials, packaged flour, pulses, rice and oils, chyawanprash and milk-based food drinks have seen a huge surge in sales. Panic-buying also is a factor which has led to e-commerce platforms becoming the go-to destination.
Brands can make time-sensitive offers and promotional deals on items bought from e-commerce platforms, encouraging users to stay indoors while gaining visibility for themselves. In fact, they will be instrumental in changing buying habits and consumption patterns in the long run.
OTT and video streaming platforms are the biggest gainers
Close to 40 OTT players and video streaming apps like Youtube available in the Indian market are the biggest gainers during the pandemic. While some OTT platforms have given mobile service subscribers access to their content free of cost for a month, Disney rolled out its streaming service via Hotstar in India in the midst of the pandemic to grab maximum eyeballs. With all other forms of entertainment being inaccessible during self-isolation, video streaming platforms are likely to see a huge surge in viewership and subscribers. The time is most fertile for brands to jump onto the OTT bandwagon to steer customers towards their products and win more loyalists for their services and products. According to a BARC and Nielsen report the online VOD sector witnessed 97 per cent users per week with 236 minutes spent per user per week, which is a 11 per cent increase during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
In conclusion, mobile marketing will be the most sought after by most marketers as they will be able to reach their customer base most effectively during the pandemic. Having said that, while marketing spends might be reined in, digital and mobile spends might see an increase as they become the be instrumental for brands and services to engage the customers in an ongoing conversation.
The author is country head, Mobile Marketing Association India