Booking beauty treatments has never been easier. Gone are the days of phoning countless salons that turn out to be either fully booked or lacking service quality. A group of apps have answered these problems by providing a platform through which to search for appointments, book them and read reviews. So, which app is the 'fairest of them all'?
There are many popular apps that perform this function, and even more smaller ones that focus on particular locations. The industry is particularly well established in USA where the majority of downloads come from. Other countries making significant contributions are Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom; with growing markets emerging in Brazil, Poland and other parts of Europe. We have picked out 5 of the best performing apps in the world to see who the big players are, ranking them by MAUs below.
Mindbody moved into the app business in 2015, having already established a successful online scheduling platform for businesses in the beauty and wellness industry. They have the largest share of the market with 4.4m downloads in the last 2 years, and are currently on course for reaching 1m monthly active users.
The Mindbody app also allows you to book fitness classes (in addition to beauty and wellness appointments), which may account for its popularity as users prefer one app that integrates bookings across different health industries.
However, its success can also be put down to their penetration of markets outside the US. In 2018 the app was downloaded in 55 countries on iOS, significantly more than any of the others in this list. Booksy comes fairly close with 52 countries but only 15 of these contributed more than 1000 downloads, and thus it would be misleading to say that the app has truly entered these markets.
Treatwell is the only one of these apps whose main market resides outside of the USA, with 54% of their downloads coming from the UK and the rest being made up of other European countries such as France, Germany and Spain.
Although they have not had the most fruitful 2019 thus far, we can see an annual pattern emerging that would suggest their download and user numbers will pick up.
This chart (below), taken from Priori Data's App Intelligence tool, displays the downloads and MAUs since June 2017 for Treatwell. Usage spikes around the summer months, which could suggest mainstream use of the app is seasonal, perhaps as Brits prepare for their summer trips abroad.
Despite not receiving as many downloads, Styleseat performs best on retention with by far the greatest proportion of MAUs compared to downloads - it has now accumulated over 50% of downloads in the last 2 years as MAUs. They focus almost exclusively on the USA, which perhaps leads to a superior functioning platform that encourages return usage.
Apps such as Booksy and Mindbody that are rapidly expanding into new territories should do so with caution, ensuring that the booking service is of a high standard in each new area. If they could convert their downloads into MAUs at the same rate as Styleseat they would solidify their dominance of the market.
Category choice is an interesting topic within this industry, with more than one relevant option available to developers. The 'Beauty' category is exclusive to Google Play and Booksy, Treatwell and StyleSeat all take advantage of this. Vagaro opts for 'Lifestyle' on both major stores, along with the aforementioned three; whereas Mindbody positions itself as a 'Health & Fitness' app on both stores.
'Beauty' is by far the least competitive category, with apps requiring about 2.5k downloads per day to reach the global top 10. This is in stark contrast to the 'Lifestyle' and 'Health & Fitness' Google Play categories, which require 35.4k and 32.5k per day, respectively.
Whilst Mindbody's category decision can be justified due to their involvement in the fitness industry, Vagaro are perhaps missing a trick in their app store optimisation. They give themselves little chance of climbing the category charts, competing against a huge range of apps in the 'Lifestyle' category.
Nevertheless, all these apps are gaining more MAUs and growing in popularity which indicates a growing industry, with plenty of opportunities in markets outside the USA seemingly untapped.
With little differentiating features between them, these apps rely on penetrating markets early and effectively. The most popular app in a certain area will most likely be that with the best selection of businesses. Therefore, outstanding performers like Mindbody and Booksy cannot afford to rest on their laurels in their expansion, as there is potential for local entrees to copy their business model and dominate territories before they arrive.
However, this does not mean the big players should rush to new markets - it must be done in a calculated way so to ensure quality throughout. Although not the largest, StyleSeat are perhaps poised best to expand effectively if they can transfer their popular business model to new areas.