Dating apps top the charts when it comes to growth in the U.S., but why?

James Haslam

Sep 25, 2019

If 9,999 of every 10,000 apps will fail, you might want to find ways to increase your odds. Adjust’s Growth Score was created to help marketers understand the verticals in the ascendancy, which are plateauing, and where. Continuing our series of U.S. data investigations, we focused on growth. In an analysis of the top 1,000 apps in Adjust’s platform (by sessions per week) we drill down into 12 featured sub-verticals and OS performance to identify the latest market trends.

Chart showing app growth by OS

Android is the world’s dominant operating system, and app growth on Google’s OS outstripped iOS both globally and in the U.S. Yet, if you compare U.S. growth against the rest of the world, there’s another story. While global Android rates surpass the U.S., iOS reverses the pattern. The U.S. iOS Growth Score 4.6% higher than worldwide performance, suggesting the market is a strong launchpad for apps released on Apple devices.

Winning hearts and users: Dating apps are growing fastest

An analysis of the latest Adjust data reveals clear winners and losers between verticals. Dating apps have the highest Growth Score of all (45.78). Second is E-commerce, specifically Shopping apps (37.03). Midcore Games also saw a high score at 36.25.

Dating apps are growing fastest

Significantly, our research contradicts analytics firm eMarketer, which has seen plateauing growth in a recent report. However, user churn (the number of users leaving an app) could explain its topping of the chart (which we’ll explore below). Whatever the case, Dating apps are making significant revenues in the U.S. Tinder, the top-grossing app globally, receives 43% of revenues from the country, according to data firm Sensor Tower.

Rideshare, Ridehail & Taxi (20.17), Banking (16.11) and Music apps (13.01) are slow to grow. Rideshare apps are approaching saturation — with the market dominated by two significant players. Lyft and Uber combined make for 98.3% of market share as of July 2019, according to data company Second Measure. The same can be said for the incumbents Apple Music and Spotify, who tower over the Music landscape. Dating, conversely, is dominated by Tinder, but has finer competition among many, including the recently released Facebook Dating. Meanwhile, Banking’s biggest competitor isn’t on mobile — many users simply prefer brick-and-mortar banking over mobile. A report by data firm eMarketer reveals 52% of users wouldn’t consider moving their bank to a digital-only platform, suggesting banks have much to do to change attitudes in the U.S.

To ensure you don’t burn cash on user acquisition that doesn't pay dividends, you need to think about retention. We calculate the Growth Score with a simple equation: installs/monthly active users (MAU). Since MAU is affected by retention, it could affect growth — if two apps have the same amount of installs, but app A loses more users, it would receive a higher score. Of course, install size is a larger influence, but the chart above highlights the effect of churn. Music apps’ retention on Day 7 is much higher than middle and high-performing apps, which could skew the score.

You need to consider the reality of user behavior to improve retention. As mobile retention expert Andy Carvell shared at a recent Mobile Growth Summit talk, “low retention rates after day one are the norm.” However, “there’s a big opportunity in activation.” Prompt your users to complete a task after install so they get invested in the product. This also lets you create cohorts within your CRM tool, differentiating between those who install and bounce, and those who’ve completed an event or two, and who are more likely to reactivate later. This step will help stabilize your user loss and help understand your growth potential better.

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