Tara Kirkpatrick

Mobile Trends Analyst, Apptopia

I am a Mobile Trends Analyst at Apptopia, the leader in real-time competitive intelligence. Brands use the platform to generate insights across mobile apps and connected devices, and investors use it in correlations that help predict private and public company performance. They rely on Apptopia to better understand consumer behavior and intent across app-based devices to gain a competitive advantage. My research focuses on the retail and travel industries.

Read the Apptopia blog:

  • Posted on: 08/17/2022

    Should The Body Shop be mobilizing voters?

    Being authentic to the core values of a founder/founding team is always good for business, period. It will attract people aligned with those values so long as the PR and marketing around the statement is strategic to get it in front of them. So in this case, according to the comments from others, it makes sense for The Body Shop, but it should not be deployed by companies for whom that would be disingenuous. People are intuitive, and younger generations especially will be the first to call out when their favorite influencer "sells out," pushing product or a message to make money or fit in.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2022

    Should sports betting be served up in grocery aisles?

    Sports gaming kiosks will not bring in more foot traffic. At Apptopia we have seen sports betting mobile app engagement is seasonal, with the huge spike between the Super Bowl and NCAA championships then a drop off for the rest of the year. (Monthly active users among the top apps dropped 30 percent from April, in July). Grocery stores see a lot of volume the day of Super Bowl parties as it is - the only thing kiosks will drive is additional lines in the store, so I hope they are strategically placed away from cash registers for those few days when sports betting is hyped to the masses.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2022

    Have restaurant meals become a better deal than food from grocery stores?

    Bob makes an excellent point about perceived value, and the quick-serve restaurant chains in the U.S. have tapped into this psychology for years. Just think about the "value meal." Today the focus is less on the value meal and more on the value of loyalty, which is earning Americans free and discounted food over return visits. The CEO of Restaurant Brands International confirmed this in another recent CNBC article, "Burger King parent says more customers are redeeming coupons and loyalty rewards." Thanks to mobile apps, it's never been easier to keep track of loyalty rewards -- and motivate consumers to continue earning with push notifications and gamification. The act of earning something plays into the perceived value and thought that "I would not want to waste that effort." This is why July was the best month on record for fast food app downloads, according to Apptopia estimates.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2022

    Does Walmart+ need a video streaming deal to compete with Amazon Prime?

    Subscription fatigue is real -- just look at the recent earnings reports of streaming providers -- therefore, Walmart would be solving a problem for consumers by bundling an existing service with its two-day shipping and grocery delivery and pick up perks. Timing is everything. Yes, video rental failed in 2005. Was video rental really solving a problem though? Walmart+ with streaming entertainment would consolidate costs for the following:
    • 2-day delivery on a marketplace of products (Amazon's core service)
    • Grocery delivery/pickup services on low-cost groceries (something Amazon cannot offer until it scales Amazon Fresh to more locations)
    • Entertainment for the whole family if, let's say, the deal went through with Disney
    The news of any future entertainment partnership would land right now because more families are evaluating where to cut costs. All it would take is families realizing that Amazon Prime Video is NOT their sole source of entertainment (which I would be curious to see data on) and that Walmart+ offers more convenient and cheap grocery solutions for the switch to be compelling. Prior to this news, there was evidence that Amazon is feeling the threat of Walmart+ in its expansion of Amazon Fresh stores this year.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2022

    Americans turned to food waste apps as grocery prices rose

    Food waste apps are a positive addition to the grocery and restaurant takeout economy because they take care of a problem that is too low priority for businesses to do themselves. So long as each of these apps make it basically thoughtless for a grocer to participate, I do not see downsides. Even as the apps grow in popularity, there will remain a population of people that do not have the need or to whom this concept and process does not appeal. Keep in mind that the apps have convenience obstacles -- like that they do not deliver and consumers do not get choice from a full menu/shop -- that will, at best, position food waste apps as a part of the grocery shopping and order takeout rotation.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2022

    Can venture funds help retailers keep apace with technology?

    Over the last 2.5 years especially, retailers realized the need for speed and that tech innovation is a major competitive advantage. For example, Ulta had consistently trailed Sephora in mobile downloads, according to Apptopia estimates, until it developed Buy Online, Pick up in Store in late 2019. Even after Sephora developed it out of need in 2020, Ulta spent all of 2021 outpacing Sephora by an average of 420,000 downloads every quarter. Sephora started experimenting with AR in late 2021, and these strategic investments will help Ulta test new technology, while also keeping it safe from a competitor. Assuming synergy and business results, retailers that have invested in a start-up through a corporate venture fund could make a more calculated acquisition.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2022

    Is Amazon’s deal for iRobot all about mapping Americans’ homes?

    The Roomba acquisition is another piece of the pie to collect consumer data that will help Amazon sell more, keep consumers reliant on it, and ultimately keep Prime's price inelastic. Does it sell to a wide addressable market? No. But more and diverse data sources will always strengthen business intelligence.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2022

    Is TikTok becoming a bridal shopping portal?

    Video improves online shopping as we have known it, especially when it comes to clothes. Add to that a vast platform focused on "discovery" like TikTok, and it resonates with any shopper who wants something unique or special. Many brides travel far to cities with esteemed retailers — but it's an expensive trip before you buy an expensive product, and if you do not find what you are looking for then you may settle because of the effort it took to get there. Shopping online has solved that problem so far, but pictures can be deceiving when it comes to fabric quality and fit, which is what video solves. Live shopping is already popular in the East and is on its way to the U.S. The most popular dedicated live shopping app in the U.S., Whatnot, has nearly doubled its downloads in the last 90 days compared to the 90 days prior. I even saw that Curtsy, a Poshmark for Gen-Z, debuted short form video to help buyers get a real idea of what the secondhand clothing (that you cannot return) looks and fits like. Expect to see this fashion retailers of all types try this on for size in the next year.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2022

    Is Walmart’s HQ reorg a good thing or cause for concern?

    Economic conditions have provided a reflection period for corporations – many of which made major changes in the last two and a half years that they likely did not have time to process. Walmart is a prime example of this: today looks more like Amazon than it did years ago, and its in store operation is more like a warehouse/membership club with more self-service and the Walmart+ subscription. It would be concerning to stakeholders if Walmart did not announce layoffs after all this change.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    Will H-E-B’s self-checkout pilot take off?

    100 percent. Apptopia estimates mobile performance for 7 million+ apps, and when we look at competitive intelligence for grocery store apps in our platform, self-checkout stands out as a clear competitive advantage. For example -- nearly 20 percent of Costco's user reviews year-to-date are customers complaining about its lack of self-scan technology and saying they will switch to Sam's Club for the convenient feature. I rate H-E-B very likely to roll out self-scan successfully because it has invested in its mobile tech stack since starting its app in 2019. Its user reviews have the highest "sentiment score" in Apptopia (ranges from 0 percent to 100 percent, where 100 percent indicates the best positive sentiment score possible) among the top 10 grocery store apps: 93 percent compared to the market average of 75 percent.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2022

    Will the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ model overcome economic and regulatory challenges?

    BNPL will prevail. The providers also make money from merchant partnerships, and in such a cost-conscious environment retailers will want to add a BNPL solution. Mobile data shows that retailers who offer BNPL increased engagement by 20 percent in the first year and have higher overall engagement than retail apps that do not offer it.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2022

    Are mobile devices creating connected store associates yet?

    For warehouse retailers, mobile hugely empowers the employee who can use it to answer questions about stock not on the shelf, including if it is in a back storage room, about to be restocked, or if it is at another store location. In the last example, employees can even go a step further to reserve the product at that other store location, which is delivering quality service to customers. When the store footprint is smaller, I agree that mobile devices become more of a distraction from customer service.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted

    Agree that grocers are on autopilot with this generation and missing opportunities to increase basket prices by engaging with an audience that is engaged. Grocers seem to focus on becoming a part of the weekly routine, and once that box is checked, they move on. But meaningful profit opportunity exists if they become part of a daily/weekly ritual (just ask beauty and wellness retailers). "81% cook every week, 75% prefer cooking with fresh foods ..." A meal kit would be a perfect way to support this group who is clearly intentional about what they eat. Conscientious eaters want to learn more, so kits could be geared toward teaching about in season ingredients and new cooking techniques. It's interesting that grocers have not launched their own meal kits that would appeal to both older generations that enjoy learning new recipes and cooking styles, as well as the younger customers that favor convenience. As an extension of the meal kits, grocers could create a meal club that promotes community around trying the recipes or taking lessons (virtual and/or on-site) -- a great way to collect a higher subscription fee for the kit and push premium product add-ons. It may seem inopportune to start a meal kit service while the consumer sentiment is cost conscious, but HelloFresh and Green Chef have doubled or tripled users year to date. Grocers could also save on expensive shipping and packaging costs by doing a pickup option.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Will more Americans make e-grocery delivery a weekly habit?

    Absolutely. Mobile activity on the apps of the top US grocers is at a record high right now – primarily because shoppers are downloading to get digital coupons and loyalty discounts – but expect to see online ordering grow along with it. As more shoppers end up interacting with the grocer online/mobile to begin with, it creates a tipping point for more e-activity. To embrace demand and make it a competitive asset to your business, store leadership should invest in its tech stack, from order management system upgrades to mobile service provider support.

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