Digital Strategy

The framework of a good consumer mobile app

What is a consumer mobile app?

Consumer Mobile App (in opposition to mobile app enterprise), is when an app is consumer-centric. Social media apps, gaming apps, music apps or travel apps are the most telling examples.

Why are they different than other tech solutions?

The first assumption in Consumer Mobile App would be that it’s not the same process of creation and iteration than in other typical business.

Traditionally for building their companies, entrepreneurs spotted problems and then tried to bring the best solution to solve it. This is the case for most of the business model such as SaaS or marketplace. In SaaS, entrepreneurs identified a problem in a specific industry where they think they can build a robust solution to empower industry’s expert. e.g. Salesforce, Doctolib, PayFit, Slack…

For marketplaces, entrepreneurs spot an industry where there are demand18 and supply and the goal is to build the best platform to be the proper third party that helps and connect the two other parts. e.g. Uber, Airbnb, Drivy…    That’s how they tackle their mission, by solving a problem.

Yet, Consumer Mobile App such as Snapchat, Facebook, Tinder haven’t being built to initially solve a “problem”. At the opposite of this approach, they would rather grab an market opportunity by design.

Therefore, what are the fundamentals of the Consumer Mobile App framework? 

By reviewing some of the MAC success over the past few years, we understand that their framework is composed of three main elements:

  1. Narrative

    What is the deep, sustainable and authentic behaviour that we are looking for through our users?
    A lot of applications on the App Store are not build to be sustainable in time, and it’s a well known fact that thousand and thousand of them failed in the user retention part of the funnel. Most of the time, it’s because of a lack of understanding of these three components of their user’s behaviour.
    Tinder is a good example. Tinder’s narrative is ego trip, the constant need of self-valorization versus other people. The anti narrative could “find your soulmate thanks to our app” because it kills the user retention and doesn’t feed what users are looking for. Facebook’s narrative is stalking.

  2. Primitive

    The primitive is the main feature the app propose to fulfill the narrative.
    For Tinder it’s the swipe, for Snapchat it’s the ephemeral picture, for Facebook it’s the feed, etc.
    The primitive is really important because it’s the core of the mobile app product.
    Quality of the primitive will also defined your retention and will create growth loops.

  3. Enablers
    All the features which will help to enrich and improve the experience of the primitive.
    The choice of enablers, features you will prioritize to develop, must answer to the primitive first and this is how you can choose which features is mandatory or not.

Now that we have thick elements around the success of a Consumer Mobile App and especially around the challenge of retention, one question remain; what do you need concretely to take in account in order to build your framework?

1. Understand your user
In this approach, user testing is key to nurture yourself with the daily impact you are having  (or not) on your user. Sometimes, as a company you think you are right on many things but it’s not necessarily the case and users have the power to bring you back to reality.

2. Analyze your data
Data never lies and helps to have a deep understanding on things that are invisible on the front of your product. Maybe your users are not staying on your app because it’s badly designed but maybe because the onboarding is weak and could be improved. Data will reveal on which problem you have to focus first and you will be able to be creative to find out new ways to solve it.

3. Understand where do you want to go
This last point is as mandatory as the two previous one. What is your vision and which future do you want for your app? This is your decision and it need to be clear in order to have a good execution. However, clear doesn’t mean it will never change so prepare yourself to iterate a lot and to consider many hypothesis before finding the miracle cure.

About the author


Sonya Cerclet