Discerning users, longer content, and respect for user data

In the latest in our series of predictions pieces running between Christmas and the New Year, Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, founder and CEO of Connecthings, shares her view on how the mobile landscape will look in 2019.

For marketers, mobile apps have become an integral resource for engaging and connecting with customers. Our recent survey, The State of Mobile Application Usage, revealed several useful trends for the mobile space related to user behaviour, location data and privacy standards. One overarching theme emerged as a clear indicator of what lies ahead – applications that deliver experiences and enhance services based on user context will have an increasingly competitive edge, ultimately improving engagement, strengthening the brand and retaining users in the long-term.

After combing through the data and discussing customer experiences with our clients and partners, we put our collective thoughts together to offer some predictions pertaining to mobile trends for 2019.

More discerning users
People are downloading apps at an astounding rate, but the competition is fierce for who will win users’ brand loyalty for the long-term. Engagement and retention might be as, or more important, than user acquisition. The key to loyalty is engaging users at the right moments when the content is most valuable. Apps must learn when those moments are and what information the user will want. As we turn the calendar to 2019, we anticipate several trends…

Firstly, we’ll see a more mature, discerning mobile user who is taking control over their phone and knows how to restrict solicitations and control privacy. Users will continue to want fewer, but timely, contextually relevant content and notifications. They will want to be able to decide what information they want to receive and when – be it plain content or ad targeting.

Secondly, users will continue to value richer, longer, more insightful content pieces (e.g., podcasts, TED videos) and/or more visually-driven experiences (e.g., Instagram over Facebook, stories over news feeds, videos and pictures over posts).

At the same time, more apps will be available to help users control how much time they spend on apps and mobile phones. As mobile addiction becomes less socially acceptable, adoption rates for these apps will increase steadily. Grassroots organizations will lead a movement towards writing the “guide to good mobile behaviours,” establishing rules for a good line of conduct online.

Privacy matters
Our State of Mobile Application survey also revealed that regardless of age, gender or environment, data privacy is a big concern to the majority of users. Across generations, more than two thirds of respondents said that mobile apps should not share their data with third parties.

We also found that users have a higher comfort level when they are in control of data-sharing practices. While most actively share location with their inner circle, there is significant concern about data being shared with third parties by mobile applications and brands. Blockchain will continue to trend alongside machine learning and AI and could help solve some of these privacy concerns.

The impact to the consumer will be limited – sometimes invisible – but businesses will benefit from these layers of security and automation/intelligence.

Mobile apps will impact business operations
In the year ahead, mobile actors will dominate entire categories beyond their initial core business, with mobile playing a significant role – Uber from car service to global transportation; Airbnb from room renting to global travel; WeWork from coworking spaces to global and local communities. They’re using the capabilities and convenience of mobile apps to solve customer challenges and remain top of mind. Large corporations will migrate from desktop software to mobile and could even develop their own apps to improve productivity, communication and connectivity among their employees, especially in a global context. 

Consumer apps that will be most popular
The most popular consumer apps will be those that bridge the physical and digital worlds – transportation, shopping, delivery, dating, gaming. Users will move toward more authentic relationships with other people, products and brands and will demand apps that are privacy-focused and use contextual engagement. Here are some examples: 

• Fintech apps. Venmo and Revolut (payments), Acorn (savings/retirement), Robinhood and Betterment (stock market) – have all achieved massive growth over the course of 2018. Their simplification of an otherwise convoluted aspect of daily life will continue to seduce the Millennials and Gen Z, who are eager to bypass traditional (and antiquated) banks and manage their accounts, start their savings plan and invest in their favourite companies through easy-to use, mobile-friendly fintech services.

• Health tracking/ fitness/wellness monitoring will continue to be popular. There could be more single-usage apps to detect and track major diseases for cardiology, oncology and diabetes. We’ll also see apps use more visual and audio capabilities. 

• Micro apps will surface with a single purpose and unparalleled experiences in retail, entertainment, niche social or news. And curation/aggregation/search apps will cut across categories, allowing for a more authentic experience, with human intelligence taking over AI.

• Also, we’ll see a shift in transportation apps with an overwhelming dominance of global actors, e.g. Google Maps/Waze. More sophisticated single use/transportation mode apps, e.g. bike, scooters, will become more popular. 

We live in a mobile, on-demand economy, and mobile apps are transforming businesses and consumer preferences. But for marketers to be successful, they must adapt to users’ needs for apps to be relevant and to incorporate context into their daily lives. Innovation is moving at a rapid pace, and companies in such industries as location and market intelligence are working to ensure these groundbreaking apps are useful and will keep consumers and brands engaged.