Mobile app trends over the holidays 2022: Installs and sessions
The holidays are the most wonderful time to break out mobile apps because they help relieve stress and provide entertainment. But as with any market, the mobile app market is impacted by seasonality, as user habits and behavior fluctuate. Depending on the vertical, some apps experience a rush during the festive season, and others see a much calmer period. For example, Adjust found that during the holidays in 2021, users streamed music more often throughout December, cooked homemade meals on Christmas Eve as installs and sessions for food delivery apps dropped, and spent more time playing mobile games in the new year.
To give app marketers insight into user behavior during the holidays, we look at global trends from the last week of December to New Year's Day 2023. We've analyzed how the data measured against the average of 2022 and December and assessed year-over-year performance.
Getting into the holiday spirit with music streaming
It's almost impossible to imagine the festive season without music. Adjust data shows that global installs of music streaming apps increased throughout December 2022, as the month's average installs were up 9% compared to the year's average. Music streaming app installs were most impressive on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
On December 24, installs were 6% higher than December's average and 16% above the year's average. More users than ever installed music streaming apps on December 25 to get into the Christmas groove, as installs were 31% above the month's average and 42% higher than the 2022 average. Users also spent more time on music streaming apps this festive season compared to 2021. On Christmas Eve, sessions of music streaming apps had year-over-year growth of 8%, and on Christmas Day, sessions grew 9% YoY.
Celebrating Christmas and New Year's in the kitchen
Many users chose to cook meals at home on Christmas Eve as it allowed them to prepare meaningful or traditional dishes for their families. On December 24, installs of recipe apps were 15% higher than the month's average and 8% more than the yearly average. Sessions also grew 12% compared to December's average.
Usage of recipe apps surged on New Year's eve as well. On December 31, installs of recipe apps increased by a remarkable 32% and 24%, compared to the month's average and yearly average, respectively. Sessions were 21% higher than the monthly average and 7% above the yearly average. Users likely found cooking at home to be a fun, social activity that added a personal touch to the celebration and made it feel more special and memorable.
Starting the New Year with takeout
The use of food delivery apps increased on New Year's Eve as many users ordered in to celebrate. On December 31, installs saw a boost of 7% compared to the monthly average. Installs were also 11% more than the yearly average. Sessions for December 31 came in at 2% higher than the 2022 average and 4% compared to the rest of December. Getting food delivered for a New Year's celebration is becoming the norm as many people prefer to stay home and avoid the hassle of cooking and cleaning up after a big meal.
Global installs of food delivery apps also spiked on New Year's Day. This is perhaps because people might have been too tired or busy to cook after the previous night's celebrations. On January 1, 2023, installs were up by 19% compared to December's average, and sessions rose by 10%. Compared to the 2022 average, installs were up by 23%, and sessions increased by 8%.
Gaming apps win the holidays
While gaming apps performed consistently throughout the year, there was significant growth over the festive season once again. People may have been playing mobile games to pass the time while traveling home or during some free time between holiday activities. Others may have been looking for a way to stay connected with friends and family members who could not be with them for celebrations. Additionally, mobile games can be a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day of holiday preparations or celebrations.
Gaming app installs on December 24 and 25 were 14% and 25% higher than the monthly average. Compared to the yearly average, installs were up by 7% on Christmas Eve and 18% on Christmas Day. Gaming app sessions grew 4% on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, compared to December's average.
Gaming app installs and sessions jumped to the next level on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. On December 31, installs saw a hike of 20%, and sessions increased by 12% compared to the monthly average. Installs were also 13% above the yearly average. On January 1, installs of gaming apps were a whopping 47% higher than December's average, and sessions increased by 16%. Compared to the 2022 average, installs were 39% higher, and sessions surged by 3%.
Planning health and fitness journeys over the holidays
Global installs of health and fitness apps slowly trended downwards by the end of 2022 as many people indulged during the holidays and had less time and energy to devote to their fitness goals. Installs in December were 16% lower than the yearly average. Christmas Eve was once again one of the worst days of the year for installs in the vertical, coming in at 19% below the yearly average. Christmas Day performed a little better, as installs were 8% more than the December average. However, they were 9% lower than the year's average.
Additionally, it's also interesting to note that health and fitness apps had significant year-over-year growth over the holidays. On December 24, installs grew 39% YoY, and 26% on December 25. This is likely due to more people becoming health-conscious and adopting habits that will help them stay more active and vibrant.
Users became more serious about maintaining healthy habits in the new year after Christmas. On December 31, installs were 15% above the monthly average, and sessions were 3% more. Installs also increased 25% YoY, and sessions grew 4% YoY. Health and fitness app usage skyrocketed after New Year's Day. On January 1, installs were 42% more than December's average and 20% above the 2022 average. January 2 also performed exceptionally well, as installs increased by a massive 43% compared to the 2022 average.
While the growth of health and fitness app installs during the New Year period was impressive, session growth was moderate. Many users likely downloaded the apps to plan their health and fitness journeys, waiting to use them until after the holidays. On December 31, sessions were up by 3%, and 6% on January 1, compared to December's average.
Travel apps go for a ride over the holidays
The last two holiday seasons were markedly affected by lockdowns and travel restrictions. However, in 2022, due to relaxed regulations, many people could visit loved ones or travel to festive events at new destinations over the holidays. Installs of travel apps grew consistently throughout the year but reached new heights in the last week of December. Installs from December 25 to 31 were 11% higher than the monthly average and 9% above the yearly average. Sessions in the last week of December were up by 7% compared to the monthly average and 14% compared to the 2022 average.
New Year's Eve and Day were one of the strongest days for travel apps. On December 31, installs saw a boost of 17% compared to the monthly average and 15% compared to the yearly average. Sessions were also 12% above the monthly average and 20% above the yearly average. On January 1, installs grew 18%, and sessions rose 2% compared to December's average. Compared to the 2022 average, installs were up by 15%, and sessions increased by 8%.
User habits and behavior drastically shifted over the holidays. We're excited to see how the verticals we looked at will continue to evolve and perform in 2023. As the mobile app space gets busier each year, it's crucial for app marketers and advertisers to retain the users they acquired during the festive season. That's why we'll continue to give insight into app trends throughout the year. With Adjust’s Scaling your app to 1 million users: The ultimate guide Part 2, you can learn five ways to boost your app’s retention rate. App marketers must also utilize mobile app analytics to better understand the user journey and make informed decisions, which will ultimately help build a loyal user base, maximize retention, and increase revenue.
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