App marketing in India: so much growth, so much promise

By Haley Smith September 29, 2023

You have to be insanely good at app marketing in India to make a dent in this competitive market. India is an extraordinary mobile market with fast-growing smartphone penetration and usage. Mobile apps represent the primary method by which most people connect, and India’s extremely active startup community is leveraging this strong growth opportunity with an unprecedented level of app activity.

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and it will soon be the most populous country in the world. With the boom of the smartphone industry — over a billion smartphone users and counting, India is forecast to hit an astounding 1.5 billion smartphone users by 2040.

In addition, thanks to an extra boost in the digitization of everything from Covid, India has become a hotbed for app marketing.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the current state of app marketing in India and share some key insights and trends. India is a critical and growing marketing for Singular, and over the past years, we’ve seen enormous changes in the strategies that mobile publishers are using for app marketing in India to drive extraordinary growth on their businesses.

App marketing in India: understanding your customers

India boasts a diverse smartphone user base, comprising individuals from different age groups and regions.

  • The majority of smartphone users in India fall within the 18-35 age range
  • Urban areas have a higher concentration compared to rural areas
  • Male users currently dominate the market, but the number of female users is steadily increasing
  • The average selling price of a smartphone in India is just over $200
  • The most popular brand of smartphone in India is Samsung
  • Singular is seeing slow iOS growth in India, however
  • Paid user acquisition in India is currently 87% focused on Android and 13% focused on iOS
  • Install distribution in India is 91% Android and 9% iOS

While India is clearly an Android stronghold, Singular is seeing slow iOS growth, potentially partly due to Apple’s investment in actual iPhone production in India. While paid UA in India is 87% focused on Android today, just 18 months ago that was 95%. And while install distribution is 91% Android today, it was 94% just a year ago.

iOS growth India

Understanding these demographics is crucial for tailoring app marketing strategies and reaching the right audience if you want to succeed in app marketing in India. That’s especially important for foreign app publishers who want to succeed in India.

Local app publishers are doing incredibly well, though, with 47% of top apps in India being built locally, according to 42matters, and 20% of the top grossing apps in India being made by Indian mobile app developers. Local app publishers understand their home turf well, of course.

A big focus in the Indian mobile market is digital commerce. Currently, the top 10 apps in India include 5 that are focused on retail, commerce, and payments. The top 10 apps are:

  1. JioCinema
  2. Instagram
  3. Flipkart (shopping)
  4. Meesho (shopping)
  5. Snapchat
  6. PhonePe (payments
  7. WhatsApp Messenger
  8. Shopsy (shopping)
  9. WhatsApp Business (running your retail or other business via your phone)
  10. Facebook

Big change is coming to India’s mobile markets soon

Part of Singular’s success in mobile India is that we share a profound interest in ensuring that maximum insight can be leveraged for data-driven marketing. In the intensely competitive Indian market, companies need to identify competitive advantage wherever they can.

A big part of successful app marketing in India is creating an architected customer experience that takes the user to the app store, drives an install, and then keeps users engaged and transacting over the long haul. You can’t maximize business potential in such a competitive landscape with partial information, which is why we do everything in our power to provide the richest possible insight.

That includes things like enabling long-term customer analysis with better data retention policies, and deeper cohort analysis so you can analyze your users based upon any action and for virtually any time period. These are the sorts of ideas that are currently driving app marketing in India.

But big change is coming.

And that change will force the entire ecosystem to evolve.

The massive upheaval in targeting, attribution, and retargeting that we’ve seen in the iOS world over the past two years thanks to App Tracking Transparency and SKAdNetwork has not hit India overall nearly as hard as the United States or the UK or Japan, for instance. That’s simple due to the fact that India is almost 90% Android-focused.

But with Privacy Sandbox on Android becoming a significant thing to prepare for in 2023 and a reality to deal with in 2024, change is coming.

Here are some trends I see growing in app marketing in India …

  1. The rise of local apps
    Local and regional apps are gaining momentum in the Indian app market. These apps have gained popularity due to their ability to cater to the specific needs and preferences of Indian users, based on their region or language. With a deep understanding of the local market, these apps provide localized content, creating a sense of familiarity and trust among users. As a result, local and regional apps are now competing with global giants in the Indian app market, offering users more options and diverse choices.
  2. Focus on quality
    As in many markets, app marketing in India is fast shifting its focus from driving the most installs possible to a greater focus on quality installs. This is not to say that big Android app install numbers don’t matter but rather that the future will be won by those companies that identify the programs and partners that attract app users that stick around, engage and transact.
  3. More ad partners and experimentation
    We see more companies building broader lists of media partners as a way to drive additional scale. While they’re getting choosier about which partners they go big with, they’re testing more partners to find the best sources of lucrative new users. Whether this changes in 2024 with Privacy Sandbox will be interesting to see.
  4. Retargeting is still massive
    While iOS-heavy markets have largely lost their ability to do retargeting, India’s heavy Android concentration and its massive focus on retail has kept retargeting on the front burner. Successful app marketing in India requires retargeting to fight cart abandons and boost retention.
  5. Increased use of events in apps to drive interest, monetization, and installs
    Both Apple with In-app events and Google with promotional opportunities around live ops in-app events have introduced ways for apps to not only hold events for their users but also use those events to promote their apps to new users. That could range from a tournament in a game to a shopping event in a retail app.
  6. Influencer marketing continues to grow
    Influencer marketing has become a powerful strategy for app promotion in most major countries. By partnering with influential personalities in specific niches, app marketers in India can tap into their devoted followers to drive app downloads. Influencers have the ability to shape consumer opinions and create a buzz around apps, particularly on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. TikTok is of course banned in India now, but alternatives exist. Authentic and organic influencer collaborations can significantly increase user engagement and create a positive brand image. Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns is essential for optimizing app marketing strategies, and Singular enables that.

If you’re bringing international apps to India …

As with just about any other market, you need to localize your app for India.

Adapting app content, language, and features to cater to the preferences of Indian users is crucial for effective app marketing. Including regional language options can greatly enhance user engagement, as it allows users to interact with the app in their preferred language. Understanding cultural nuances and incorporating them into the app experience further helps in building a connection with the Indian audience. Offering localized payment methods and customer support ensures a seamless user experience. Finally, localizing app marketing campaigns to resonate with the diverse Indian audience helps in reaching a wider user base.

The best way to do all of this: work with locals to get it right.

Singular and India: app marketing success

A big portion of Singular’s business growth comes from brands that get started with basic app measurement tools, but whose needs quickly outgrow cookie-cutter analysis and short time windows.

  • Better insight matters when you need to understand LTV across your user base and your current platform only allows limited analysis
  • Better attribution matters when your focus is on more than just raw install counts but rather are concerned with the quality of users you attract
  • Better fraud prevention matters when you want to ensure every marketing dollar does its job
  • Better ad monetization analytics matter when you need to optimize inventory allocation and get accurate ROAS

If you’re looking to grow in India — or anywhere else — talk to us. Book a demo, or start with our free product.

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