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The massive digitisation that the country witnessed in 2020 triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted India as a leading mobile-first consumer economy, said InMobi’s Annual Mobile Marketing Handbook 2021, considered as the ultimate destination for digital marketers and brands for insights on mobile marketing.

According to the report, titled ‘Marketing in the era of Mobile’, India accounted for around 14% of the global app installs in 2020. The growth rate of app downloads in India (28% YoY) was four-times higher than the global average (7% YoY). In the first half of 2020 (H1 2020), India stood next only to Indonesia in terms of average time spent on mobile with a 37% spike in usage.

Covid-19 has accelerated rapid digital adoption and the shift to online in the country. Globally, there has been a significant increase in app downloads, the time spent on mobile, and consumer mobile spending. 2020 saw the addition of 321 million new internet users worldwide and a 25% spike in app downloads in H1 2020 as compared to H2 2019.

Global spending in app stores amounted to over $143 billion in the year 2020. Catapulted by the pandemic, consumers across the globe spent on an average 4.2 hours per day just in the month of April 2020 while overall around 1.6 trillion hours were spent on mobile in H1 2020.

Commenting on the report, InMobi Asia Pacific Managing Director Vasuta Agarwal said undeniably 2020 has been a cataclysmic year for individuals, organisations and marketers across the globe.

“Several brands have pivoted admirably to meet their consumers’ demand. Whether it is embracing m-commerce, building click to mortar capabilities, or creating custom mobile experiences, brands have prioritized consumer needs above all,” said Vasuta Agarwal.

Vasuta Agarwal also pointed out that the clear demand for mobile-first services from consumers has laid the foundation for India’s app economy. “Depending on headwinds, 2021 promises to be a positive year for the Indian mobile marketing sector – marching steadily towards the next decade of advertising and marketing innovation,” she added.

India Leads the Mobile-first Economy

The India mobile app economy witnessed a significant evolution in 2020. Several new categories of apps such as Health & Fitness, Gaming, Entertainment, Long-form & Short-form video content, Hyperlocal delivery and Learning & Education gained prominence following the unprecedented developments during the year.

From January to April 2020, Indian’s spent on entertainment apps grew by over 22%, resulting to a growth of around 47% in OTT subscription and over 26% growth in revenue, said the InMobi Annual Mobile Marketing Handbook. Interestingly, from the first wave of lockdown between March to mid-April, digital payment apps saw a surge of over 42% in usage as compared to the pre-lockdown period.

India Sees a Diverse Mix Embracing Gaming

Mobile gaming industry has seen a massive surge in 2020, as online games emerge as the new entertainment medium among Indians. India is now home to 1 out 10 of the world’s gamers and is poised to become one of the top mobile gaming markets in APAC region.

As consumers took to gaming during the pandemic, India also recorded the highest growth in the number of games played each month by the average user. Democratized by smartphones, gaming is no longer a multi-player role playing arena for young Indians. InMobi’s study reveals that, gaming is equally popular among consumers between the age of 45 to 54 years.

Short Attention Spans, Shorter Videos

Gen Z and millennial consumers are finding innovative ways to cope and unwind during the “new normal”. 2020 witnessed short or bite-sized video content as the new source of news and entertainment for the always-on, connected Indians.

Vernacular language content has played a critical role in empowering both content creators and consumers. Users are consuming content across a wide variety of genres be it news, food, health and fitness or entertainment, accounting for an average of 40 viewing minutes per day. Interestingly the engagement peaks during the conventional primetime of television.

A Mobile-first and Nonlinear Shopping Journey

As India leaps forward towards a growing mobile app economy, Indians are using their mobile to learn, explore and buy, when it comes to shopping. According to a consumer survey by InMobi during Aug and September 2020, 63% of respondents claimed that they used their mobile to learn about and discover new products, while 77% respondents used mobile to research and explore, and 62% to make purchases.

The survey also reveals that while consumers are not completely averse to in-store visits in the new normal, they seek a seamless experience that involves mobile discovery/ booking and subsequent pick-ups in store.

The Era of Mobile Marketing Maturity

Said Jayesh Ullattil, Vice President & General Manager for India at InMobi, “COVID-19 has caused a major shift in the way consumers think, feel, and act. With market disruption dramatically shifting long-conditioned behavior in just a matter of weeks, digital has become the first prerogative in the way consumers choose to interact with the world. Marketers today are re-evaluating their priorities and strategies to not only survive but thrive in a post-COVID world.”

According to an InMobi survey, e-commerce and BFSI segments lead the way when it comes to Digital Marketing Maturity, emerging as the more connected and multi-moment sectors. The pandemic has resulted in marketers having to pivot their plans to be more digitally focused. 69% marketers have increased their spend in digital channels in 2020 with 87% of them planning to increase their investments in in-app advertising by up to 40%.

Digital Marketing Maturity has evolved into Mobile Marketing Maturity (3M) in 2021 as consumers have clearly taken to mobile as the centerpiece for their daily actions. This has also resulted in a new strategy playbook for marketers as they look to drive measurable outcomes in 2021. As brands continue to traverse different stages of digital marketing maturity, building the 3M would be extremely critical for brands to meet the consumers where they are, and continue to stay relevant.

Key Highlights

321 million new internet users added globally in 2020

$143 billion spends in the worldwide app store in 2020

4.2 hours of daily time spent on mobile by the average user in April 2020

37% spike in average daily hours spent per device between 2019 and Q2 of 2020; Second globally in terms of time spent on mobile

India leads the world in app installs, accounting for 14% of global app installs

1 out of 10 gamers across the globe is Indian

368% growth in Arcade games; 198% growth in Casual games and 160% growth in Casino games since pandemic

Indians spent 40 minutes daily on short video content formats

InMobi drives real connections between brands and consumers by leveraging its technology platforms and exclusive access to mobile intelligence. Its Marketing Cloud creates new paths for brands to understand, identify, engage and acquire connected consumers.

As a leading technology company, InMobi has been recognized on both the 2018 and 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 lists and as one of Fast Company’s 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies.

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