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Christmas In Lockdown: Social Communication, Food & Drink App Usage Peaked Globally During The 2020 Holidays

In-line with previous years, installs of health and fitness and productivity apps dominated on New Year’s Day, as consumers focused on getting the year off to a positive start – mentally and physically

Photo by Miti on Unsplash

Amid lockdown measures and rising COVID-19 cases, the holiday season in 2020 looked unlike any other – and newly released data from app marketing platform Adjust showed just how much consumers relied on their mobile phones during the holidays to keep them connected and entertained. 

With many large group gatherings banned this year, Adjust’s research shows that people remained connected to friends and family via social communications apps; with installs 25% higher than the December average on Christmas Day. 

In the UK, US and Germany, users were texting and calling more on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve. Installs on Christmas Day were 83% above average in the UK, 34% in Germany and 28% in the US. On New Year’s Eve, sessions increased by 10% in the UK and 9% in Germany.

In Japan and Korea, users were texting and calling more over the festive season. Christmas installs on social communication apps were 30% above average in Korea, with sessions 10% up. On New Year’s Eve, installs and sessions in Japan increased by 19% and 12% – in Korea by 32% and 17%. 

In Indonesia and Vietnam, users were texting and calling more over the festive season. Christmas installs on social communication apps were 7% above the December average in Indonesia and 11% up in Vietnam. On New Year’s Eve, installs increased by 11% in Indonesia and by 17% in Vietnam.  

Adjust also revealed that despite the restrictions, many users still did their best to enjoy the holiday season. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day trends indicate that plenty of food was cooked and enjoyed alongside festive playlists:

  • Installs for food and drink recipe apps on December 24 and 25 were 61% higher than the December average, with sessions climbing 23%. On New Year’s Eve, installs increased by 43% and sessions by 17%.
  • In contrast, food delivery apps saw a dip on December 25, performing 30% below average for installs and 27% below for sessions. They bounced back on New Year’s Day, however, reporting an installs and sessions increase of 41% and 32% respectively.
  • Along with the festivities came good music, with installs on December 25th 75% above average and installs on December 31st up 6%.

Installs for food and drink apps in Germany increased by 82% on Christmas eve and 54% on New Year’s Eve – sessions increased by 62% and 49%. The US was also hungry for new recipes, reporting a 57% increase in installs over Christmas and 42% increase for New Year’s Eve. The UK reported a 62% boost in sessions over Christmas and 52% climb for New Year’s Eve. 

Food delivery dipped in Germany on Christmas Eve, with installs dropping 75% but bouncing back to 47% above average on January 1. In the UK they fell by 65% and returned at 47% upe, while in the US installs fell by 25% and bounced back at 42% above average.

Music installs climbed 118% in the UK on Christmas Day, 72% in the US, and 87% on Christmas Eve in Germany. 

Sessions for food and drinks apps in Korea increased by 52% on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and installs went up by 68%. Japan wasn’t quite as hungry for new recipes until New Year’s Eve, when sessions jumped by 24%. Korea continued the festive feeling on New Year’s Eve, with installs and sessions both performing 45% higher than the December average.

In contrast to the rest of the world, Korean users ordered a lot of food deliveries on Christmas Day, which was the second-highest day in December with sessions at 22% above average and installs up by 47%. Also looking to order in for New Year’s Eve – food delivery apps had their best day of the month with sessions and installs 32% and 50% above average.

Music installs climbed 23% in Japan on New Year’s Eve and by 46% in Korea on Christmas Eve – sessions also jumped 12%. 

“The pandemic and subsequent restrictions in 2020 led to many changes in consumers’ lifestyles and the way they interact with apps – and the festive season was no exception,” said Paul H. Muller, co-founder and CTO of Adjust. “Our data shows how apps complemented peoples’ festivities over Christmas and the New Year, and which habits are flourishing in 2021 as life in lockdown continues.”


The research also found that the pandemic has not affected motivation for New Year’s resolutions. Whilst health and fitness apps took a dive during Christmas, users hit the ground running in the first week of January with installs 89% higher than the December average and sessions up by 24%. A similar trend was identified with calorie tracking apps, which appeared low on the agenda on Christmas Day but saw installs surge by 91% in the first week of January, and sessions jumped by 34%. 

Productivity apps – such as inbox management tools, to-do lists or calendars – also saw a bump, with installs increasing by 51% at the start of January and sessions by 12%. On the topic of self-improvement, plenty of users are hoping to learn a new language this year with language app installs in the first week of January increasing by 35%. 

The UK is the most motivated to get in shape, with a 120% increase in health and fitness app installs in the first week of January, which followed a 60% drop in sessions over Christmas. Germany and the US follow with a 95% and 82% increase in installs respectively. 

The UK also saw a 110% increase in installs for language learning apps in the first week of January, with the US most interested in counting calories, reporting a 120% installs increase.

Users in Japan are showing interest in getting in shape for 2021, with installs performing 35% higher than the December average – sessions are up by 8%. Korea follows with a 27% rise in installs and a 5% boost for sessions. Calorie tracking in both markets is also up. In Korea installs and sessions soared to 84% and 16% above average respectively, while Japan saw increases of 53% and 10%.

Productivity and language learning are topics also on users’ minds in Korea and Japan in 2021. Productivity installs for the first week of January climbed 21% in Korea and 17% in Japan, with sessions seeing 19% and 5% boosts. Language learning installs for Japan increased 35% in the first week of January, and 41% in Korea.] [Indonesian users appear motivated to get in shape in 2021, showing a 65% increase in installs for health and fitness apps in the first week of January and a 9% boost for sessions. Vietnam follows with a 51% increase in installs. Calorie tracking is also hot on the agenda, seeing an increase of 70% for installs and 21% increase for sessions in the first week of January in Indonesia. In Vietnam, sessions are up by 8%. Language learning appears to be trending in Indonesia for the New Year, with installs 29% above the December average and sessions up by 5%.

While certain peaks and troughs are to be expected throughout the holidays, it’s vital brands  retain users acquired throughout the festivities. From there, marketers can build a devoted user base, increase revenue, and improve their app’s return on investment. To learn more about retention strategies, download a copy of Adjust’s user retention report here

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