7 of the most innovative mobile app responses to coronavirus (and what your business can learn from them)

April 16, 2020
Vlad Averin

You have to adapt to survive the crisis and thrive once the pandemic is over.

As we write this article, governments across the world are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

With borders closed, families in quarantine, and offices shuttered, businesses need to adapt to survive the crisis.

In response, existing apps have pivoted to respond to COVID-19. And new apps have emerged to solve some of the problems that society’s facing. Here are some strategies we’ve found the most interesting.

Strategy #1: Go Free

Many existing apps have improved or introduced free offerings to support consumers and other businesses throughout the crisis.

Aside from making business owners feel warm and fuzzy inside, offering free content also provides:

  • Press Coverage: Apps recently made free are getting extensive press coverage and building goodwill with consumers.
  • Future Revenue: Although consumers are currently on a free plan, some will upgrade when the crisis is over.
  • Marketing: Planned marketing campaigns might seem tone-deaf or inappropriate. Introducing a free app gives a marketing boost without the need for expensive creative.

Nike Training Club

With gyms closed and limits on outdoor activity across the world, the impact of coronavirus on Nike is huge. Not only will sportswear sales drop significantly, but their planned advertising campaigns (which encourage outdoor activity) were suddenly inappropriate.

To mitigate this, Nike revamped its advertising campaigns overnight, starting a new campaign with the slogan "Play inside, play for the world", which simultaneously encourages self-isolation and health through home workouts.

And it's not all about sportswear sales. Nike also offers various apps, including Nike Training Club (NTC), which offers 185+ workouts, including bodyweight-sessions, yoga, and gym workouts. As part of their COVID-19 campaign, Nike has made NTC Premium free.

Headspace

In such a challenging time, consumers are looking for ways to calm down and relieve stress. And Headspace, an app that aims to make mediation accessible to everyone, is stepping up.

By making parts of their application free to consumers, they’re introducing new users to Headspace and helping society through a difficult time.

They've also made the app free to all US public healthcare professionals, K-12 teachers and  school administrators; supporting staff in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Newspapers

News outlets across the world are removing paywalls on content related to the coronavirus pandemic. This helps people get access to accurate and trustworthy information about the pandemic, which is essential in fighting the surge in fake news stories.

Strategy #2: Pivot or Adapt

If your business is unable to operate as normal, you need to pivot fast. Reorganizing your approach will help identify new ways to serve customers, so they either support your business today, or return to you once the crisis is through.

For many physical businesses, this means switching to teleconferencing. According to app analytics company Sensor Tower, downloads of teleconferencing and communication apps jumped from 1.4 million in the first week of January to 6.7 million in the first week of March.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness operates 1,859 clubs across America, making it one of the largest fitness club franchises in the world. With many of these locations closed, they needed a pivot to stay relevant.

As a result, they’re streaming daily fitness classes on Facebook, led by expert trainers and celebrities. Their app also offers hundreds of workouts that can be completed at home.  

Takeout COVID by Coast

Coast is a messaging app and scheduling tool specifically designed for small businesses, including restaurants.

With restaurants closed across the US, Coast identified a way to help their customers. The team developed a tool called Takeout COVID, which helps customers find local restaurants who now offer take-out service. It lists local restaurants and bars across the US and explains how you can order their food via the internet or telephone.

Strategy #3: Fight COVID-19

Finally, many new apps are directly fighting COVID-19 by offering medical services via telemedicine.

Patient Access

In the UK, over 35 million people can now reach their doctor via video call, due to the rapid addition of video consultation software to the EMIS Web clinical system. Over 4,000 practices can use this software for 12 weeks with no charge.

Orbita COVID-19 Virtual Assistant

Artificial intelligence developer Orbita has launched an interactive chatbot to help support healthcare services during the pandemic.

The chatbot can be added to any healthcare provider's website for free, reducing the overwhelming number of calls currently being received. COVID-19 Virtual Assistant can answer questions about the pandemic and refer patients to testing and treatment facilities.

How can your app adapt to COVID-19?

Every app is different, but we hope these examples and strategies give you some inspiration.

By making your app free, changing your business model, or directly fighting COVID-19, you'll be able to weather the storm and thrive once the pandemic is over.
If you’re looking to adapt your app in these challenging times, we can help. Get in touch to explore the possibilities.