The app economy boomed during the pandemic as people embraced a mobile lifestyle and App Annie’s Cindy Deng lists the trends that marketers should consider when delivering content to build engagement with their audiences.

Last year was a turning point for many brands and marketers as we were forced to adapt to a mobile-first consumer economy. Using remote, mobile-first apps have in fact become the bridge to the gap between pre-pandemic times and our new normal. As we move into post-pandemic recovery and look ahead to 2022, the million-dollar question on most people’s minds is: Would the “return to physical” stall the growth of the app economy?

The answer is quite the opposite.

One of the biggest takeaways will be that the global population has adapted to the pandemic by embracing a mobile lifestyle. This is aligned with our recent joint report with AppsFlyer, where ANZ consumers are found spending an average of 4.1 hours on mobile every day – 90% of which is spent in apps – in the face of widespread social distancing measures and lockdowns.

Not only are consumers growing a habit of turning to their mobiles first to satisfy their everyday needs – from purchasing groceries to consuming entertainment – businesses, even local mom-and-pop shops, and content creators are also embracing a mobile-first strategy.

Hence, it is not surprising to see that 2021 has become a record-breaking year with total consumer spend across iOS and Google Play globally leaping by nearly 25% Y-o-Y to hit $135 billion! Likewise, app downloads remain on a growth trajectory, hitting a new milestone as it climbed 8% Y-o-Y to reach 140 billion by the end of 2021. Closer to home in Asia Pacific, for instance, App Annie has found that Singaporeans were spending over $277 million on mobile apps in the first half of 2021, with two-fold growth expected by end-2021 to hit $556 million.

With mobile becoming a democratiser and apps here to stay in the long run, here are some trends that APAC brands and marketers should consider when delivering content to build engagement with their audiences.

Video sharing and editing apps for eyeballs and share of wallet

Amidst the physical restrictions in the past two years, people have increasingly turned to entertainment for comfort and this has created long-lasting habits that are still impacting the current market. 

Thanks to the global growth in in-app subscriptions, video streaming has doubled from 2020. Just in October 2021, for example, YouTube joined the $3 billion spend club as consumers opt for ad-free and mobile-first streaming. It is worth noting that its success is not only due to content creation but also YouTube’s variety of offerings and how it lets users choose their experiences, such as various paid membership channels and premium subscriptions that allow for uninterrupted viewing.

Similarly, in Singapore, CapCut quickly rose to the third spot as more consumers look to create original video content. India, on the other hand, saw MX TakaTak, Instagram and Moj dominating the list of top breakout apps by downloads in 2021.

With more APAC consumers increasingly valuing content and experiences, and even willing to pay for a more premium version of mobile-friendly content, brands ought to start reconsidering new advertising and monetisation tactics to keep up with the ever-evolving consumption habits of consumers.

Live video streaming and chat lead APAC’s social apps

To break the monotony of isolation and social distancing, social apps have grown in popularity as a way to connect with one another. App Annie predicted that consumer spend will grow an additional $4 billion, or a whopping 82% increase, from 2020 to a $9 billion market on mobile in 2022.

In particular, TikTok, BIGO LIVE and Discord held the top three spots among social apps by global consumer spend year to date (January to October 2021), and all three have livestreaming and community elements at the core of their monetisation strategy.

It’s obvious that video streaming and community features are the primary drivers of success at present and this trend will continue in 2022. With social apps poised to command nearly half of all time spent on mobile, this will be a sector to watch for partnerships, marketing and customer engagement. From engaging video-first content creators to being authentic and picking the right social app, the opportunities are endless for brands.

Mobile is the GOAT in 2022

Indeed, the world has transformed many consumer consumption patterns. One significant habit that has resulted in ripple effects is how APAC consumers are increasingly embracing a mobile lifestyle.

With APAC’s mobile app economy thriving and expected to grow further in 2022, it will be critical for brands and marketers to charge up their marketing strategies. By doing so, they will be able to deliver personalised content that tick and fuel successful mobile experiences for consumers.

This, however, won’t be an easy feat. In order to increase app “stickiness” and monetisation opportunities, brands will need the right set of data such as real-time access to market trends and competitive insights. This way, they will be able to adapt swiftly and decisively, and build success in an ever-changing mobile environment.