Market Research: It Can Make or Break an App

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We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: you can develop the best app in the world, but it won’t sell if there is no market for it. Here are some tips we think are helpful for researching apps.

The best advice I can give is that, if you are serious about being successful in the app industry, you should live and breathe apps. Nothing takes the place of passion. For example, if you want to develop iPhone or iPad apps, you really should have one or both of the devices yourself. Then, you should download and use a bunch of apps that look good to you.

Notice what you like about them, and what you don’t. Are they easy to use? Could they be improved? How? Could you come up with a similar app in a slightly different category? What markets do you like? Where are your interests? This qualifies as pre-market research; there is no substitute for having your finger on the market.

Now that you have an idea of what is going on in your market, it’s time for some more serious research. It is crucial that you understand your competition. If you don’t, you are going to get hammered. Your first question should be, “Who are the leaders in my market?” There is a very good apps research site called App Annie that lists the top apps in different markets, categories, and countries. They also have separate rankings for paid and free apps.

Next, you want to see how the apps are being advertised. What are the developers saying to the public and what can you learn from it? Who are they marketing to? Is the app part of a series? If so, what made the series successful?  If it’s free, download it and see why people like it.

Who is using the app? Try to get market demographics from Twitter or Facebook. Check out the user reviews at the App Store. In any market, from retail, to apps, to service, or to information products, you need to know who your target customers are. If you know your customers and his or her wants and needs inside and out, you will have a leg up on any competition.

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