Young consumers are stuck at home, and they’re turning to tech to solve their problems—from mental health to missing friends…
Young consumers have always seen tech as something that brings them together, and now more than ever they’re turning to their devices to feel more connected during the Coronavirus crisis. As quarantine begins for a large part of the population, social distancing becomes a buzzword, and many events and venues shutter, apps have become an even more important source of entertainment, news, and maintaining some semblance of everyday life for them. According to YPulse’s tech and device research, Gen Z and Millennials are primed to see their devices as the solution to their novel quarantine problems: 87% of 13-39-year-olds say technology helps them stay closer with friends.
The App Store’s top categories are currently apps that help consumers stay informed (including the CDC’s app and other news apps), apps to assist people in learning from home (like Coursera), apps for parents that are at home with their children (like Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures and Boomerang Cartoons), guided meditation apps, at home workout apps, at-home cooking apps and podcast apps. Unsurprisingly, (at least for those already working at home) at the moment Zoom is rated as the top free app.
It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z are anxious, a trait that will surely be exacerbated by the social distancing measures that medical health professionals have recommended. Apps that are specifically designed for at-home activities and connection from afar are of course showing jumps in popularity as screens become the new living rooms. As brands scramble to find ways to help young consumers to cope with Coronavirus, they could take some cues from some of the apps we think will get big during this self-quarantining period:
Of course, apps and platforms that were already popular among young consumers—like Netflix—are only poised to get bigger. In fact, Nielsen believes that video streaming may rise by 60%, based on what has happened during previous crises. (Note: Popcorn Time, called the “Netflix for pirated content,” is seeing a comeback as well.) But quarantines mean that movie nights are limited to those who are in a house together, and young consumers want to be able to watch shows and content with their friends. Enter: Netflix Party. This Chrome Extension is generating a ton of buzz as a quarantine boredom solution for allowing friends in different locations to watch shows together while simultaneously chatting. Gizmodo compares the set up to Twitch, with content taking up the majority of the screen and a chat module on the side. Users can simply install the Chrome plugin, choose a show to watch, and share the viewing link with friends or family. The apps that make social connection easier, and make people feel a little less along are poised to win big during this isolated time.
Gyms have already been closed down (or have limited hours) across the country and at-home fitness apps will become especially important once future “shelter-in-place” mandates take place in more cities. In the wake of this sudden shift, brands have quickly been offering at-home workout tools by creating their own apps, collaborating with other fitness programs or, like Planet Fitness, livestreaming special digital classes. But they’re also competing with apps that have specifically been designed for at-home workouts—and have huge libraries of content. Aaptive, which is currently #1 in audio fitness apps on the app store, provides fitness classes (both with and without equipment) that can be done in tight spaces (like, say, an NYC apartment). Brands would be wise to take a note and partner with existing fitness apps, offer exclusive discounts on classes, and start programs to build loyalty with consumers while they’re forced to stay out of the gym.
Meditation focused apps have been on the rise for some time–we first started talking about them back in 2017 as a trend being fueled by anxiety-prone Gen Z and Millennials. (Our studies have shown that “anxious” is already the top way that Gen Z describes their own generation.) But the leaders in this space are poised to see a massive increase in popularity as the generations who prize mental health look for tools to get them through this crisis. Headspace offers guided meditations, mindful workouts, and sleep-focused wind-down videos through their app. Like other brands, they’re offering part of their content for free—in a collection called “Weathering The Storm”—to “help support [people] through this time of crisis.” We’ve explored how mental health and activities that support it are high on the list of priorities for Gen Z and Millennials, and brands that are viewed as supporting mental health authentically during a time when it’s needed most will likely go a long way with young consumers.
Kast describes itself as a “real-time video sharing app with screen capture, voice, text, and video chat technology that makes it easy to connect with friends wherever they are.” The app allows young consumers to use video to digitally hang out, play games, and watch content together in real-time “parties.” Like Netflix Party, Kast allows group content viewing with simultaneous chat—but rather than focusing on one streaming service, they allow “watch parties” of any content shared by the host, who can invite over 100 friends to see their screen. That means anything from TV shows to gaming can be “kast”—lessening feelings of isolation caused by staying at home. Users can also have group video parties to just hang out together on one screen. Facetime and other apps that allow for them to connect with friends and family remotely will be used more, but this is a real opportunity for brands like Kast to provide unique ways for young consumers to keep up with their social groups and regular activities despite physical distance.