Verto Index: Health and Fitness Apps
This month’s Verto Index looks at the top health and fitness apps among U.S. adults (ages 18 and above) from Fitbit, to Weight Watchers, to UP.
Fitbit Still Rules a Very Niche Market
According to Verto Analytics data, Fitbit continues to hold on to its position as the top-ranking health and fitness app, based on the number of monthly unique users that the app attracted over the course of July 2017. In fact, Fitbit has enjoyed significant growth since last year, jumping from 14.8 million monthly users in August 2016 to 23.6 million users in July 2017 – nearly a 60% jump.
Fitbit is in a unique position among the other apps on our Index: it owns its own ecosystem of hardware (wearable devices) and software, while the other top-ranking apps are designed to be used solely on smartphones or paired with a third-party device.
Fitbit’s user numbers and reach are even more impressive when compared to the other apps on the Verto Index. Based on our user data, it appears that health and fitness apps are still very much a niche market with a relatively small user base. Other than the very top-ranking apps (in addition to Fitbit, this includes S Health and MyFitnessPal), most apps in this category only attract one or two million monthly users.
Compared to other app categories, such as mobile games, the user base and online reach of health and fitness apps remains tiny: even Cookie Jam, the 10th highest ranking mobile game on our recent Index, reported 3.1 million monthly users, compared to the 1.4 million-strong user base of Period Tracker, the 10th ranking health and fitness app on our Index.
The Top 5 Stickiest Apps
Unsurprisingly, Fitbit also ranks highly when it comes to stickiness (Verto’s measure of user engagement, which compares daily users to monthly users); its 42% stickiness rating is right in line with its metrics from last year. But the stickiest app on our Index is Weight Watchers, with a 50% stickiness rating. While the company has suffered several setbacks in recent years, struggling with its “diet program” identity, Verto’s data indicates that the Weight Watchers app has gained 40% more monthly users since August 2016, and – more importantly – has nearly doubled its stickiness rating over the same time period. For a lifestyle and fitness app, this is particularly important, as it indicates that users are highly engaged and using the app on a near-daily basis. Based on the Weight Watchers business model – which focuses on weight loss and fitness through long-term peer support channels and proprietary tools and products – this gain in stickiness could be a valuable and important indicator of user loyalty to the brand as well as the app.
The Biggest Losers (and Winners)
But other apps on our Index haven’t been as lucky. As the health and fitness apps market shifts away from proprietary devices (Fitbit being the great exception), we are seeing the rise of apps that can integrate with consumers’ pre-existing devices – smartphones, smart watches, etc. As a result, the UP app from Jawbone (which stopped manufacturing its wearable fitness trackers in 2016, and now seems prepared to pivot into medical devices) and Nike+ Running (which has the option of integrating with a wearable tracker) have both lost users over the past year. But oddly, those remaining users are showing strong user engagement: both UP and Nike+ Running have seen their stickiness increase over the past year and, in fact, at nearly 32%, UP is the third-stickiest app on our Health and Fitness Index.
Who Spends Time on Which Activities in Health and Fitness Apps?
In a niche market, what types of consumers use health and fitness apps most often? We looked at user demographics for the top two apps on our Index, and then investigated which age groups spent the most time with the app. As the top-ranking health and fitness app, Fitbit users skew younger: consumers between the ages of 18-24 spent an average of nearly 4.5 hours per month on the Fitbit app, which is more than twice the amount of time that any other age group spent with the app over the same time period. Meanwhile, S Health showed a more even distribution of users and the time they spent with the app. While the app is especially engaging for consumers between the ages of 25-34 (who spent, on average, almost 26 minutes per month with the app), Verto data shows that older users (ages 45 and above) also spend a significant amount of time using the app per month.
According to Verto data, while the health and fitness app category remains small, it still has seen a boost in user numbers across the board – perhaps a reflection of increasing interest in health and wellness as the “quantified self” trend spreads. And while the overall trends is towards apps that work with a consumer’s smartphone (rather than a separate device), Fitbit’s continued popularity shows that there’s still space in this sector for wearables.