Canada Leads Per Capita App Spending Growth During COVID-19, Climbing 39% Year-Over-Year


The top 10 mobile markets saw their per capita spending collectively grow 26 percent year-over-year in 1H20

Due in large part to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, mobile app revenue experienced unprecedented growth in the first half of 2020 as consumer spending reached more than $50 billion globally. Sensor Tower research has identified that this trend is evident on a number of levels, including per capita spending. In our analysis of the app world’s 10 largest revenue-generating markets for 1H20 excluding China, Canada emerged as the growth leader for per capita spending in mobile apps and games. Our Store Intelligence data reveals that average in-app spending per person there saw a 39 percent increase when compared to the first half of 2019, a significant increase from the 13 percent growth seen between the first half of 2018 and 2019.

The United States, Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, France, Australia, Russia, and Brazil were the top 10 highest grossing markets by combined App Store and Google Play spending for 1H20. (China was excluded for our analysis to make a direct comparison, as Google’s platform isn’t available there.) Collectively, these 10 countries saw their per capita spending in 1H20 grow by 26 percent Y/Y from the first half of 2019. This placed Canada’s per capita spending growth 13 points higher than the overall average.

Canada and Great Britain’s Increased Growth in Spending

Canada’s App Store and Google Play generated a combined total of approximately $939 million in consumer spending during 1H20. In the first half of 2020, Canadians spent close to $25 per person in mobile apps and games on average, up from slightly more than $18 in 1H19. This Y/Y growth of 39 percent significantly outpaced the 13 percent that Canada’s per capita spending increased between 1H18 and 1H19.

Canada saw the largest year-over-year growth in per capita spending in 1H20

After Canada, Great Britain saw the greatest increase in its per capita spending in our analysis. During the first half of this year, Great Britain’s populace spent approximately $20 per person in mobile apps and games, up 33 percent from $15 in 1H19. This was 18 percentage points greater than the 15 percent Y/Y growth Great Britain experienced between 1H18 and 1H19.

High and Low Spenders

Japan led in absolute per capita spending among the 10 markets in our analysis. Japan’s population spent an average of close to $78 in apps and games during 1H20, up 18 percent from about $66 in 1H19. This growth was 8 percentage points higher than the 10 percent increase in Japan’s per capita app spending between 1H18 and 1H19.

Japan had the highest absolute per capita spending in 1H20

Japan’s 1H20 per capita spending was 39 times the sum of about $2 spent on average by Brazil’s population during the same period, which was the lowest per capita spending in the cohort. Japan was followed by South Korea and the U.S., which saw 1H20 spending of approximately $53 and $44 per capita, respectively, during the period.

The U.S., Brazil, and Russia have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their per capita spending growth perhaps reflects this. These three were the only countries in the cohort to experience lower Y/Y growth in per capita spending during 1H20 when compared to the 1H18 to 1H19 period.

The U.S. populace spent an average of about $44 per person in the first half of this year. This figure represented growth of 26 percent Y/Y, down 4 percentage points from the 30 percent growth seen between 1H18 and 1H19. In Brazil, consumers spent approximately $2.20 per person in 1H20, up 16 percent from about $1.90 in 1H19. Still, this was only a fraction of the 58 percent Y/Y growth in per capita app spending Brazil saw between 1H18 and 1H19.

Russia’s population spent an average of $3.40 in the first half of this year, up 26 percent from $2.70 per person in 1H19. This was more than 20 points below the 50% Y/Y growth in per capita spending Russia saw between 1H18 and 1H19.

Signs of Resilience

While the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will undoubtedly have both short- and long-term effects on the trajectory of the mobile ecosystem, our research indicates that mobile app revenue will continue to rise more than our pre-pandemic forecasts called for in the coming years. Certain categories such as mobile games have even experienced a boost in revenue amid the pandemic, while other categories such as business apps have seen an unprecedented surge in downloads from first-time users. As economies around the globe work to recover, app makers will be considering which markets to prioritize based on a number of factors. Strong growth in per capita revenue amid the crisis will help identify where consumer spending has shown resilience—and may continue to do so should the “new normal” persist into 2021 and beyond.

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