Can super-apps be a boon for advertisers & consumers?

Experts opine that with super-apps, advertisers can get integrated opportunities and better performance visibility and they can be a one-stop solution for their customers

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: May 5, 2022 8:29 AM  | 5 min read

The success of super apps in emerging markets is inevitable due to the increasing digital penetration and internet usage. Brands and consumers have been on the lookout for the next big thing that can provide a one-stop solution for their customers. The rise of super-apps in India can prove to be a game-changer for advertisers as they are set to cover every need of their consumers on one platform. Super-app is basically a mobile or web application that can provide multiple services at one go including hassle-free processing of payments and financial transactions, bundling a bunch of services or separate apps within it. This provides a far bigger playing field for advertisers and also for consumers.

The recently launched Tata Neu comprises of a host of services and is touted to be a super-app while the already established apps like Amazon, Paytm, and Jio have already been flirting with the space. Whether Tata Neu is actually the country’s first super-app could be debated, it certainly offers a far more encompassing suite of services, and hence marketing opportunities across sectors.

Ankita Thagela, Strategy Director at Tonic Worldwide explains, "Super-apps at the heart are based on convenience and rewards, which is an attractive proposition for consumers. While Indians have been toying with the phenomena of super-apps with platforms like Paytm and even Amazon to some extent, Tata Neu sure seems like a game-changer given the diversity of services from groceries to flight, to financial services and integrated reward/loyalty program.”

Thagela adds that super apps are all about consumer stickiness, which makes it easier to follow a full-funnel consumer journey. This means that these platforms are also relevant for contextual placements and tracking last-mile services.

“As per a Deloitte study, India is expected to have about one billion smartphone users by 2026. We can see brands adapting to these changing trends to give their consumers what they need. Some companies like Paytm, Flipkart, PhonePe and Jio have already entered the market with their super-app model. The Tata Group’s Tata Neu is another entrant with a range of services that the people of India are ready to explore,” says Shrenik Gandhi, Co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media.

Thagela agrees, saying, “From an in-app advertising perspective, it sure is lucrative especially since third-party data sharing is likely to face several restrictions globally. Super-apps in this context are a smart choice as advertisers get integrated opportunities and better performance visibility.”

Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder and Director, SoCheers, however, cautions that it takes a lot of might in terms of investment and business strategy to pull this off and the global success rate is rather small, with only a handful having actually made it big, noting, “So, understandably, organisations interested in building a super app are currently pretty skeptical.”

While India’s digital penetration is growing rapidly, the increase in internet bandwidth is still playing catch-up. As Gandhi observes, “The super-apps involve advanced integration of multiple verticals, making the platforms tech-heavy. One of the biggest challenges that these super-apps will face is technological and operational to ensure a smooth user experience. With different platforms, including third parties, coming together under one umbrella, ownership and responsibility issues also arise. Consumer data privacy is another area that needs streamlined regulatory protocols.”

Devnani adds that while super apps, whether they be still evolving ones like Amazon and Paytm or market-ready ones like Tata Neu, are an exciting new space for brands and advertisers, the customer isn’t too interested in their finer nuances.

“For a consumer, having a super app is not important per se. They care about the services and experiences that an organisation can provide via the app. They are happy to do it all in one if all the features work as promised. It's more for a business strategy that we are calling it a super app. Having a top-notch level of service across all features and an aggressive growth strategy for user adoption are two key parameters for success for this model and the major challenges for it too,” he states.

Also, considering the diversity of India’s consumer base, there are different audiences for different services, which clearly states that there is going to be a lot of tinkering with the model, by advertisers as well as the platform themselves. “When it comes to super-apps, the benefits are also the challenges. Maintaining stickiness and value leadership for each category is easier said than done. While unified platforms offer convenience, single service platforms offer expertise, so a constant battle is to deliver both,” says Thagela.

Talking about the positive side of using super-apps, Gandhi states that financial services are now coming forward to build a one-stop solution for their customers. “One segment in India that is adopting the super-app model fast is the banking sector. Post pandemic, we have seen user banking needs transition from traditional services to faster and easier services that can ensure a hassle-free experience. A number of banks and financial services are now coming forward to build a one-stop solution for their customers to address all their needs. Other sectors where growth is expected include healthcare and wellness,” concludes Gandhi. 

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