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4 min

How to Build a Viable Super App Strategy for the US and European Markets

To win in the Western markets, companies should take a different super app path

Alex Semenov

Chief Executive Officer

Eva Petritski

Content Manager

June 7, 2024

When a company starts thinking about building a super app, Chinese WeChat appears as a benchmark model to follow. However, some research agencies warn that this model does not work in the West: WeChat took off due to specific political and socioeconomic conditions in China, while in Europe and America, tech and business are a bit different.

What they forget is that WeChat is only one of the many possible super app strategies. Companies in other countries do not need to copy it to achieve the same results. They can adapt the basic strategy to suit the specific needs of their audiences and their business goals. In this article, we will show how.

Step 1. Define a clear positioning for your platform

Positioning is a promise that a super app gives to its user base. Clear positioning will help you see what multiple services to integrate into your platform to deliver maximum value to your audience.

The best thing to do is to forget about the WeChat type of apps and choose one theme that your super app will be structured around. To find this theme, look at your core offering and study people who use it:

  • What they are buying from you
  • What need they are satisfying with your product
  • What other needs you can satisfy to enhance their experience

Answering these questions will give you a clear direction for your super app development, as well as ideas of which services you can build within it.

Don’t go “all-in-one” with multiple services

Since its purchase in 2022, Elon Musk has been trying to transform X (former Twitter) into the “everything app”. In 2023, he launched audio and video calling, live talks, communities, and the beginnings of dating and content creator services.

This strategy repeated the successful approach of WeChat, but didn’t work in the American market: despite the multiple services, X downloads in the US fell by 57%, and only 0.1% of all X users were willing to pay for the super app features in X Premium.

The reasons for this failure might vary from different socioeconomic conditions to a weak business strategy. X cannot get backed by the government and claim a monopoly on digital services to substitute the existing banking, streaming, or dating apps. And with no clear positioning, it cannot convince its audience to use the X platform for more than what they are already used to.

Opt for a theme-based super app instead

In 2020, a BNPL service Klarna discovered that 70% of their users wanted to make all their purchases in one app. With this knowledge, it positioned itself as the ultimate shopping platform and started adding extra services for buyers: live shopping, price comparison, e-wallet, and delivery tracking.

It focused on one user need and created a super app that helped thoroughly satisfy it. And people proved to be into it. One year after going with this theme-based approach, Klarna grew from 86 to 147 million users.

Step 2. Add services that will enhance your core offering

To do that, take your average user and look at their journey around your service. Define what needs they might want to satisfy before and after using your product. Those will become the extra services for your super app.

Next, categorize them according to their purpose: main (core), additional, uniting and engaging. It will help you define which services to launch first to get maximum benefit and not waste money on useless features.

Don’t launch multiple services in a random order

PayPal wanted to transition from a payment solution to an e-commerce service. So in 2021, they purchased Happy Returns, a reverse logistics software that helps users make contactless and label-free returns.

Two years later, PayPal is selling its returns service to UPS. One of the possible reasons is that it couldn’t bridge the returns service with its financial solutions and didn’t manage to organically lead its customers towards using it.

PayPal provides financial services and money transfers, which is a couple of steps too far from order returns on its user journey map. For this service to work, it would have been more logical to first launch shopping with PayPal, and then introduce order returns as an extension of this function. In this scenario, UPS acquiring Happy Returns makes more sense than PayPal trying to integrate the service into its finance app.

Start with services that create most value for users and your app

Like Super.com, for example. It is a financial super app that helps people with low incomes save money and build their credit score.

When building their super app services, they studied their core audience to see what additional financial needs they had. It turned out that many users had been booking hotels and using debit cards because they didn’t have the credit ones. This insight led to the creation of the Super Pay Card—a credit card substitution that helps users earn cashback while booking hotels.

As expected, the feature took off. Seeing that, Super.com expanded its capabilities to shopping from brands, gas, and pharmaceuticals. Launching various services this way helped Super.com gain 30 million users, $2 billion in sales, and $200 million raised in investment.

“You have to start with a product or a service that customers like and come to use your app for. The important part is not to expand to unrelated areas. You want to stay focused on a particular demographic and a particular thing”

Hussein Fasal

CEO Super.com
Source: heyinnovations.com

Step 3. Invite partners and test out super app features

You don’t need to develop all the super app services from scratch. A more rewarding and cost-efficient way is to integrate already established services into your platform, but before that, check that they align with your users’ needs and complement your core. And to maximize the potential output, test these services on a small user segment, or do thorough user research to map out exactly what they might want from your super app.

Don’t view household names as competition

Instead, partner up with them and use their name to promote your offering, like SideChef.

They were building a comprehensive app for everyday cooking and wanted to cover all the needs of their user base from finding various recipes to shopping ingredients. To deliver groceries, SideChef decided not to develop its own service, but to link up with Walmart, an already well-known food delivery provider.

Its name brought more trust and users into the service. This business strategy paid off: SideChef doubled its revenue growth and secured $16 million of seed funding.

Start building a super app even if you are not a market leader yet

Topstretching is a stretching studio. Before starting their super app journey, they didn’t have an online platform and had been selling workouts via Instagram.

What they did have was a loyal audience, a strong core product, and a goal to become a one-stop fitness hub for its users.

To do that, they studied their customers’ needs and created services to satisfy them. Topstretching gathered these services in a super app where users could watch online workouts, track their progress, create meal plans, and buy equipment—all within one session.

The super app strategy worked out: Topstretching increased its revenue by 150% and grew customer lifetime value by 70%.

Key takeaways

To launch a successful super app for their audiences, European and American companies don’t have to follow the WeChat model word-to-word. The winning strategy for the Western market is building a theme-based super app which focuses on one industry and integrates user-relevant services:

  1. Define the positioning of the super app
  2. Research the market and your users’ needs
  3. Think of services that will help people complete multiple tasks in one particular sphere
  4. Integrate these services into your platform, starting with the most useful ones
  5. Go into partnerships with other tech companies —you don’t have to launch multiple services alone

Don’t think that super apps are for industry giants only—you can make it, provided that you have a strong core and a clear app growth strategy. And if you need help with the planning, drop us a line. We’ll study your case and see what solutions we can suggest.

“We believe that with the right super app strategy, any company can achieve hypergrowth. Let's catch up and I'll tell you how your business can achieve the results you want with minimal risks and maximum yield”

George

Head of Business Development at HeyInnovations

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