Mobile app installs and spending among UAE consumers is on the rise, new research shows
Posted on 2022 Aug,28

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As businesses in the UAE double down on mobile apps in a bid to increase customer engagement and spending, they are seeing highly positive results for their efforts with the overall number of installs of mobile apps in the country growing 23% in H1 2022, compared to the same period last year. While finance apps were by and large the most successful, with installs growing a staggering 183%, other categories that posted noteworthy app install growth included entertainment (31%), travel (36%), social (30%), and food & drink (15%).

“It’s clear that as we emerge into the post-pandemic world, the accelerated momentum toward mobile that we’ve witnessed over the last two years has now created a mobile-first mindset among consumers and businesses. Our findings indicate a growing preference for mobile apps as the primary engagement channel. While this is ushering in a new era of convenience for consumers, it has greatly increased the competitiveness of the space. Businesses must now seek innovative and measurable means of enhancing user experiences and increasing engagement on their mobile apps,” said Samer Saad, Regional Manager – Middle East, AppsFlyer.

A notable outlier was retail apps, which saw overall installs drop 9%. This is likely due to the surge the sector experienced throughout the pandemic, a feat that has been hard to replicate as consumers have regained their ability to visit physical stores. 

Unsurprisingly, AppsFlyer’s data still indicated significant peaks during occasions such as Ramadan and Black Friday — although this year too, the peak during Ramadan was less than in 2021, again possibly because the figure last year was significantly higher than average.

For UAE businesses, increasing the download and utilisation of their mobile applications could now prove to be a ‘make or break’ for their bottom line as consumer spending on mobile apps is also on the rise. Over the one-year period between March 2021 and February 2022, in-app purchases increased 9%. Here too finance apps stood clearly ahead of the pack with nearly three-fold (277%) growth in in-app purchases, while eCommerce applications enjoyed 41% growth despite the previously mentioned drop in installs. 

While there clearly appears to be a growing preference among UAE consumers to engage with businesses via apps, the fact that 9 out of 10 UAE organisations today offer a mobile app makes this a highly competitive space. For this reason, mobile app marketers have a key role to play in driving the success of their organisations’ mobile-first strategies. 

Remarketing — the retargeting of users who have indicated some interest in the brand — in particular has proven to be highly effective with UAE consumers with conversions from this activity growing 43% in H1 2022 compared to H1 2021. This growth was largely driven by remarketing installs on Android devices (up 79%) compared to iOS which saw a decline of 9%, unsurprising given the challenges around remarketing introduced by the launch of iOS 14.5. Consequently, mobile marketers have been focusing their budgets on Google’s mobile operating system, growing their app install ad spend on Android by 75%.

“In today’s mobile-first world, growing app installs, and increasing purchases made via mobile apps are two sides of the same coin. To achieve what are now business imperatives, calls for a multi-faceted approach, combining a focus on exceptional mobile user experience and highly strategic marketing efforts. As this space begins to saturate, data will prove decisive to driving the effectiveness of these two initiatives. When marketers can identify the barriers to the installation and usage of their mobile apps, they will be able to optimise every dollar invested into their campaign and thus drive the most impactful outcomes,” said Saad.