The US has emerged as the biggest markets for mobile apps and healthcare gamification platforms. Wellness Applications are leading in this race to earn an average working American’s attention and space in daily life, and the pandemic has more or less ensured these apps stay relevant. Organizations are looking at wellness applications with an equally ambitious vision to include them in the traditional HR Tech stack. Today, we take a quick look at how the US market is evolving and why wellness apps are so important for every employee.
How did the citizens residing in the United States react to the outbreak of the pandemic? Has it been somewhat different to what we saw in other parts of the world? First reported in China, the coronavirus pandemic quickly spread to all parts of the world, including the US, forcing everyone to restrict outdoor movement and adjust to the new demands of work, life and healthcare. Within three months of the pandemic outbreak that resulted in global lockdown, most families suffered major meltdown, and mental health and depression became a sort of another pandemic. Maybe an equally devastating one as the COVID-19, if not more. In the US, citizens were divided on steps taken to curb the pandemic from spreading, but united in their expectations and preparation for the months ahead. According to the Pew Research titled, “A Year of U.S. Public Opinion on the Coronavirus Pandemic“, “pandemic-related closures forced Americans to make wholesale changes in their everyday lives, from the way they attended religious services to the way they connected with friends and family, attended exercise classes, shopped for groceries and much more. Many of these activities moved online – so much so that 53% of adults said in April that the internet had been essential to them during the first weeks of the outbreak.” In these torrid times, wellness applications proved to be a useful support.
In the US, just like the other countries, employees had to shift their workstations to a completely new location. Home-based suddenly became the new normal even as there were fewer options available to work at on site locations, like in IT and Sales. Balancing with the home-based roles was of course a difficult task, although a large-scale adoption of technology supported increasing employee productivity within US economy. Data from authentic sources suggested well-known US brands like Facebook, Apple, Amazon and, Microsoft operated through employees working from remote. Even, Google Inc, a reputed search engine brand had asked employees to stay at home, till the pandemic was over. More so, the Federal Government had made contingency plans keeping in view the impact of the lock-down measures post-pandemic.
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What has been the impact of the pandemic on the masses?
Most of the employees working from home in the US market had been focusing on workplace wellness. Health was a major challenge and sitting back at home while following a sedentary work life was understood to be difficult. Employers in the US continuously focused on the lifestyle management regime while they had quite a tough time in motivating employees to deliver as per scheduled targets. So how could they do it? Through mobile applications of course! Simultaneously, experts from the human resource arena emphasized that mobile applications literally could help in managing better health outcomes for the employees working from home.
How could the employees choose the software applications that promised better health outcomes for the employees working from home?
With almost more than 300,000 mobile applications available in the global market, it was quite difficult for the employees to choose amongst the options. Employers preferred them to use applications wherein objectives could be met easily within a minimum time engagement. However, studies conducted by reputed research firms across the globe revealed startling facts! Before pandemic outbreak, there were at least 68.7 million smartphone owners in the United States. Such an audience used a minimum of one healthcare application in a month. However, such applications were downloaded by health freaks on specific health requirements.
Therefore, considering a mass-level usage within pandemic, what were the preferable indicators for the employees to choose the mobile application? Human resource professionals said that at the end of the day it was more of a personalized requirement driving the employees to download wellness applications.
Was the demand for such healthcare applications regional as far as the market of United States is concerned?
It seems so, and that was what exactly was revealed by the market analysts’. In US consumption trends differ and the estimated demand for software applications during FY 2020 – 21 was one of the highest. Demand mapping done by PWC during FY 2020 -21, disclosed that there was a 21% greater downloads of wellness applications when compared to the previous year.
Daily Active Users (DAUs) had increased consistently in the US, and it was estimated to be more than 8% approximately between April 2020 till June 2020. Regional demands for downloading wellness apps in US spurred and users from various categories were being constantly added. Such incidents endorsed a rising demand for services related to mobile wellness application downloads.
Which were the brands chosen by the employees based in United States?
Majority of the employees interviewed by Visual Capitalist, an online news channel, revealed that certain wellness software applications had a high rate of download. Going through the history of downloads within a stipulated time framework it was understood that, mobile software application downloads were done based on:
- Defined healthcare outcomes to be achieved.
- Tracking of healthcare activities being done frequently
- Availability of mind-stimulating games
- Questionnaire oriented content
- Options for sharing valuable content
- Live video recording options
- Being able to share your location
- Frequency of free trails
- Applications giving better consumer experience
Marc-Antoine Hager the Regional VP heading the sales vertical in CleverTap (A California-based company) stated that, “The mobile app ecosystem, including the e-commerce vertical, has never been so crowded. The brands who perform the best are those that understand that personalization alone is not quite enough; they now need to individualize engagement at scale and create “delight” during the user journey.” Outbreak of the pandemic was thus a good opportunity and data collected from research firms revealed that an US resident checked the mobile phone 262 times a day to remain engaged! Research estimates revealed more than 88% of people in the US have been engaged through mobile application downloads especially during the last part of FY 2020 – 21.
|Statistics related to key mobile application usage in US: A Snapshot|
|Experts in US estimated that mobile apps were expected to generate over USD 935 billion in 2023|
|Apple App Store remained to be the most popular service next to Google|
|21% of the Millennials had opened mobile applications for more than 50 times in a day|
|49% of the US population opened an application about 11 times in a day|
|Digital media remained to be popularly surfed by the US audience through mobile apps|
|An average smartphone user in US downloaded 10 mobile applications in a day|
Were mentally stimulating wellness applications more popular?
Most of the business consultants’ agreed that many of the US residents had stopped going to the gyms and work-out clinics to avoid physical contact with the masses. So what were they looking for? Basically, a majority of the workers engaged online were looking forward to brain stimulating activities during the pandemic. Therefore, besides health management platforms like Welltok being in demand, mentally stimulating software applications were also being surfed widely to match health management outcomes of masses.
Strava was one of those applications wherein feedback for daily work-outs was readily available.
One of the primary reasons for surfing mobile applications for the US audience included information management on diets. At the same time, the US audience had a great demand for sharing videos of work-outs to connect within a network.
Was there an increasing demand for meditation?
Research done on a wide level of target audience has shown that meditation can help reduce anxiety and improve concentration, among other benefits. As the aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak, it remained a mandate to control stress and anxiety. An advantage with the wellness apps remained that such applications offered guided meditations including every aspect to improve mental well-being of employees.
Were ‘Cognitive Training Apps’ downloaded on a higher frequency in the US?
A study report published by Gartner, an US-based research firm, revealed that ‘Cognitive Training Applications’ had a high demand in a pandemic stricken US economy. Such mobile applications provided much improved content to make cognitive activities a fun.
What were the myriad challenges for the US audience during the outbreak of the COVID-19?
Employees interviewed post-pandemic in the US revealed that, one of the weird challenges of the pandemic was facing boredom. Employees were suffocated within the home confinements while performing daily household chores remained to be a challenge. Data collected from reputed firms like PWC, Ernst & Young clearly disclosed that employees in the US suffered from a syndrome of ‘catastrophic communication failures’.
Experiencing the outbreak of the pandemic was a life-changing experience for the global population. Hence US economy was no exception! The pandemic had created issues never known in the past. Mobile applications and internet penetration had made lives easier till a certain extent although there were a number of challenges to be dealt with.