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Women account for 28% of the country's total app consumption, rural at 16.4%: Study

The CleverTap report revealed opportunities in India's mobile app market.


Mumbai: Indian women account for 28 per cent of the country's total app consumption, with rural users accounting for 16.4 per cent. Together they drive over 70 per cent of purchasing decisions. Their purchasing power is reflected in key categories of app usage including social media apps, which increasingly convert sales, and e-commerce, according to a study from retention cloud platform CleverTap shared on Wednesday.

Analysing the usage of over 300 different mobile apps with an average monthly user base of more than four million, the new study revealed opportunities in India's mobile app market, led by women and rural regions.

Women have major purchasing power, led by e-commerce

Women in India drive over 70 per cent of purchasing decisions, with their purchasing power reflected in key categories of app usage including social media apps, which increasingly convert sales, and e-commerce.

Based on the findings, the study suggests providers of ed-tech, social media, and fintech apps, in particular, consider marketing their apps to women. Women currently account for 37 per cent, 32.5 per cent and 31 per cent of usage, respectively, and are major consumers of products and services in these sectors.

Indian women outpace men in E-commerce app usage, accounting for 54 per cent of all usage. Global e-commerce brands would do well to create highly personalised and relevant commerce experiences for Indian women in order to drive revenue growth and cement customer loyalty.

Indian men account for a significant share of app interaction across several key verticals, including gaming (94 per cent), travel and transportation (84 per cent), on-demand services (78 per cent) and media and entertainment (77 per cent). Overall, men account for 72 per cent of mobile usage.

Rural India – a massive opportunity

Rural India is an underserved market on the cusp of seismic change. While app usage is currently 16.4 per cent, the split across verticals, CleverTap data shows consumers across cities and areas outside metropolitan centres gravitate to apps that can help them improve their education and quality of life.

Edutech (19.2 per cent), media and entertainment (17.7 per cent) and fintech (17 per cent) stand out as verticals that attract a disproportionately large number of rural users.

Adoption rates for health and fitness (13.2 per cent) are at the low end of the scale, but personalised strategies such as goal setting and reminder functionality can increase these numbers.

Among urban users, adoption rates for health and fitness, e-commerce, and travel and transportation are nearing saturation levels (85 per cent and above). This dynamic underlines the importance of shifting focus to growth opportunities emerging in rural areas, where competition is lower, and returns are higher.

User retention remains a challenge

CleverTap analysis also confirms the pivotal importance of focusing on user retention. Uninstall rates are a challenge across all app categories, negating costly user acquisition (UA) campaigns and threatening companies’ potential growth. Uninstall rates are highest in the gaming (44 per cent) and social engagement (46 per cent) sectors.

By contrast, sectors, where users perceive a high degree of value and convenience, have the lowest uninstall rates: On-demand services (21 per cent) and health and fitness (25 per cent). While these areas are better at retaining users, losing nearly a quarter of a subscriber base is still alarming. Data-driven offers, loyalty programs, and hyper-personalised marketing and messaging are just some of the ways brands and businesses can stem the attrition of these apps.

“Global events have radically changed consumer behaviour, particularly among women, who now rely on apps as the go-to channel for all aspects of their lives,” said CleverTap global CEO Sidharth Malik. “Similarly, rural users have come to depend on apps to make transactions or continue their education, and now view apps as a means to improve their lives. Understanding the striking and significant differences among user segments and preferences is the critical first step for companies to connect, convert and ultimately grow retention and lifetime value.”


A mobile-savvy country where apps drive commerce, communications, education and social interactions, India was the second-largest global market in terms of app downloads in 2021, according to a report by Data.ai. The CleverTap study demonstrates that mobile-first brands and businesses have an opportunity to reach underserved demographics in the world’s second-most populous nation and fastest-growing major economy.

To understand mobile usage behaviour and identify trends in in-app consumption across India, the CleverTap data science team analysed over 300 mobile apps across different verticals, with an average monthly user base of more than 4 million. The usage behaviour was broken down by location (urban/rural); by gender across verticals (fintech, ed-tech, media and entertainment, health and fitness, travel and transportation, e-commerce, social engagement); by responses to engagement campaigns across different channels and verticals; and uninstall rates across verticals. More than 782 billion push notifications, 52 billion emails, and 10 billion in-app notifications were analysed for this study.

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