What is a super app? The new age of mobile disruption is here
Over the past years, people have been looking for more ways to engage meaningfully online, whether to carry out daily activities, connect with brands, or simply to stay entertained. Super apps are stepping in and making this happen.
When smartphones first entered the market, mobile applications were simple: one use case was filled by one app. Today, the market is a lot more complex. Brands are vying to be one of the handful of apps a user opens daily, and they’re creating products that can be even more closely integrated into customers’ lives.
Knowing how super apps work can help us understand why they’re predicted to be the new normal for social networks in the next several years. And in turn, we can see how community managers take a different approach to building engagement in a closed ecosystem.
What is a super app?
A super app is a mobile application providing a set of personal and commercial services as one self-contained ecosystem. Catering to a wider array of user needs not only reduces dropoff but also lowers the barrier to entry for new services by eliminating an additional registration process.
Not every multi-service platform is considered to be a super app. To earn that title, an app must have most, if not all of the following features:
- Social utility/community: Social features such as messaging, activity feeds, and personalized promotions help to build a community around a super app. Over time, this contributes to brand loyalty and advocacy.
- Financial services: Users need to be able to carry out financial transactions within a super app. Typically, this means completing peer-to-peer transfers or e-commerce payments, but it could also extend to paying utility bills and insurance premiums.
- Retail/e-commerce: Mobile marketplaces are growing in popularity, and super apps must build shopping capabilities into their platform. Users should be able to use the app for every step of the purchase process, from browsing products to contacting the seller and completing digital payments.
- Delivery services: Delivery is a crucial part of e-commerce, but some super apps take it a step further by offering same-day and peer-to-peer options. Many also offer food delivery services, answering a daily user necessity even better.
- Transportation services: Another common super app feature is ride-hailing. In more populous cities, people need to get from one place to another and they’ll often use apps to do so. If their favorite lifestyle app also helps them get a taxi, a shared ride, or a bike with ease, they’ll use it frequently.
Because a user often requires at least one of these services every single day, super apps enjoy frequent usage, increased spending, and high retention rates.
You might think that the process of engaging users on a super app is the same as a normal app, just multiplied—but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Super apps’ unique characteristics allow them to encourage meaningful connection and drive long-term value in very different ways.
Why super apps?
Why are we moving away from single-function and experiencing the rise of super apps? Let’s look at the stats:
- The average person only opens 9 mobile apps per day and 30 apps per month.
- 1 in 4 apps is only used once after download, and never launched again.
- Users spend a daily average of 4.2 hours on their mobile phones, surpassing TV.
- 67% of U.S. consumers are interested in using a single super app for multiple digital services.
The competition for consumers’ attention is fierce, and the fight for retention is even greater. But users are clearly drawn to platforms that offer a wide range of functionalities that can be seamlessly integrated into their lives—and super apps are the answer to that.
How do super apps increase engagement?
Super apps work because they are “lifestyle” products that people use on a near day-to-day basis. As they meet more of users’ daily needs, they grow beyond a mere digital product—they become a habit.
Multi-use functionalities keep users on the app for as many tasks as possible. This minimizes cognitive dissonance and reduces the barrier to entry for a new service because customers don’t have to sign up again.
As super apps provide as many digital solutions to daily life as possible, they reduce user dropoff and encourage loyalty. Once a user grows used to one super app, they use it on a frequent basis and aren’t easily drawn to a competitor.
Super apps' emphasis on catering to a user's everyday life means engagement is built in. There is a smaller focus on using content to drive interactions compared to single- or dual-use case apps. However, social features are used to decrease friction and make the experience personable. Being able to send messages, interact with peers, and share experiences across the many functionalities provided by a super app makes the experience as seamless and contextualized as possible.
Super apps examples
Experts are betting on super apps becoming the new norm. Several established brands such as WeChat, for example, already have a stronghold in Asian countries including China, India, and Indonesia. We can see rapid movement in Western markets as well.
Here are a few examples of super apps facilitating life online:
With 24.1 million monthly transacting users, Singapore’s Grab has claimed a majority portion of the food delivery market share in several Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Aside from providing hungry urbanites with a hot meal, Grab also offers multiple services including transportation, delivery, payment, and insurance.
The super app has a loyal user base that enjoys a personalized Grab experience, including special promotions. Social features like messaging and chatbots ensure customers stay engaged with relevant deals and quick support.
TrueID is Thailand’s latest super app contender, developed by one of the country’s most prominent names in business: CP Group. Known for its digital content including movies, TV, news, and live sporting events, TrueID boasts 22.2 million active monthly users.
Other features provided include daily news and lifestyle articles, music streaming, and partner privileges. TrueMoney, the company’s financial technology branch, is also integrated into TrueID to enable financial transactions via virtual wallets.
Chat, groups, and profiles are some of TrueID’s most frequently used social features, especially among those sending messages while viewing live content. Relationships built among users keep them engaged and brand-loyal, ready for whatever digital solution the brand releases next!
Next on the list to dominate the Western market is Revolut, a digital banking platform set to become one of the leading financial super apps. Not only does Revolut offer users the ability to manage their money, but also integrates features such as social payments and groups that allow people to be part of a financial community where knowledge and engagement reign supreme. And the numbers speak for themselves – with more than 12 million users, the company aims to onboard 100 million within 5 years.
All Revolut is about is focusing on one key component: Making the financial experience as smooth as possible for users. By becoming a super app, not only will they hit this target, but also enable people to use the platform for a diverse range of purposes without having to switch between different service providers.
The next phase of apps is super
As the digital and physical spaces increasingly intersect, super apps offer a myriad of day-to-day solutions in our personal and professional lives. Established super apps like WeChat, Alipay, Grab, and Gojek have made names for themselves in the Asian market, but plenty of room remains for new contenders, especially in the North American and European markets.
Though the possibilities are endless, so too are the changes to digital product development. Product owners and community managers are having to approach engagement in an entirely different way. Social features tie multiple functionalities together, reducing friction for users and earning their long-term loyalty.
We are in the initial stages of a global super app movement. Are you ready?