Having a baby, buying a house, starting a business--those kinds of big life moments are incredibly defining, setting you on a specific path for your future. But apps are taking over those moments in a huge way, changing the way people experience them.
The goals go beyond convenience
Brent Tworetzky, Executive Vice President of Product for XO Group, (parent company of The Knot and The Bump) believes the use of apps has at least a partial foundation in our general desire to stay in control and feel comfortable. Luvleen Sidhu, co-founder, President and Chief Strategy Officer of BankMobile, adds that people use apps as a cheap, easy way to redirect themselves and their resources.
"Many are realizing that not only are apps making life easier, but they are giving us back time and money in order to focus on the things we like to focus on, [such as] experiences [...]," Sidhu explains. "From what I've noticed, people who use life-moment apps tend to put a high value on their time and how they use it. They are most interested in the quality of their life and on making their money stretch."
Aleksandra Scepanovic, Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group, agrees that one goal within the app industry is to keep the "time vampire" at bay. But Scepanovic and Tworetzky also point out that the sheer number of choices we're confronted with when seeking out information can be overwhelming. That makes turning to an app, which can help make sense of all the data, seem highly attractive.
Tworetzky further asserts that the need to feel like part of a group matters, too. He claims that many couples who use these apps seek community during their journey.
In short, it's not really the convenience of apps that matters during big life moments. It's the fact that not knowing what choice to make and being unable to direct our own time or resources threatens our sense of security and peace. Using an app offers both a sense of authority and connection and, by helping to solve a problem, eliminates the fear that comes with instability. Individuals might be especially compelled to turn to apps during big life events because they understand on some level that the stakes and risks are higher and, subsequently, have greater distress they need to alleviate.
Has equality, perception and individuality become everything?
In addition to the points outlined above, modern app users also might be relying on apps for life events because they want to keep up with the Joneses and feel more secure by having more. To this end, Sidhu asserts apps work as an equalizer.
"The biggest advantage is that technology levels the playing field and makes products and services available to everyone, not just a small few," Sidhu says. "It also allows people to gain access to the most economical option. For instance, if someone is buying a home or looking for life insurance they are able to know within minutes what the best deals available are, essentially saving them time and money."
"Nowadays," Scepanovic adds, "it seems that life itself needs a digital verification in order to exist. [...] We are used to documenting our lives through amassing pretty photos of ourselves and flattering photos of our environments (including homes) [...] that we'd be proud to show off to friends, and to our digital pack. We generate friends and lovers, and maintain relationships online. We have taken great care to develop a popular digital version of self, a version that we always take proper care of. We probably even care more about its public perception than our analog self's."
"Compared to previous generations," Sidhu says, "there were societal norms that determined how people approached life experiences. Now, there are no rules. Everything is being disrupted so life experiences are not based on the norm, but rather they are more so based on personal preference."
The psychological reasons people use apps, especially during big life events, actually go deeper than merely wanting less hassle. The biggest challenge you have is to acknowledge these hidden objectives and keep them at the forefront of app development, remembering that users expect a customized experience. If you can do this while also addressing privacy, your download and retention rates--not to mention your bottom line--likely will get the boost you're after.