What is your take on super apps?

When we posed this question to the participants of Momentum Academy’s Off the Record: What’s up with Grab?, 69% of the participants surprisingly responded that it was here to stay.

Many tech platforms are taking the super app strategy and Grab is not alone. Grab has been reiterating the message that they were always focused on being a super app.

Love it or hate it, there is no denying that super apps are here to stay! 

However, what is really a super app? 

We did a touchpoint on the super app strategy in Southeast Asia at Momentum Academy’s recent talk, Off the Record: What’s up with Grab? You can watch a recording of the whole event here.

We share our perspective on why super apps are here to stay irrespective of how many people love them or hate them.

And the million-dollar question – is super app really just adding ‘tiles’ to the app’s home page?

Grab super app

No, it’s not. Though the idea of a super app or multi-vertical app is how they offer more services to the same customer, using the existing infrastructure, there’s more to it. 

One of the key things we need to look at when looking at the development in a region is CAPITAL. In the graph below, which was taken from MW and Cento Ventures report, multi-vertical companies, or super apps, received the lion’s share of the total tech funding in Southeast Asia between 2018-2020. And this is a major deciding factor for companies to go the super app route. 

But of course, we should not take this for granted. When we did a benchmark between Southeast Asia and Latin America, we realized that multi-vertical tech companies in Southeast Asia received so much more funding compared to Latin America. And we have to say the evolution of multi-vertical companies in Southeast Asia is pretty unique.

We will be launching a new report on this soon, so stay tuned to find out the latest trends in funding and what happened with multi-vertical companies now that Grab and GoTo have gone IPO.

Relentless inspiration from China for super apps in emerging markets

When talking about the super app evolution in Southeast Asia, we can’t ignore the fact these companies look up to the giants in China like Meituan, Alipay, and WeChat.

Moving up from low margin, high-frequency segments to high margin, low-frequency segments, companies in China are really good at directing traffic to maintain customer stickiness. 

Meituan super app

The bigger picture is that a super app is more than just multiple services on an app. It’s a complex game that requires a lot of effort and strategy.

So what is a super app really?

We did a quick recap on what a super app is really:

  1. It’s more than just cross selling
  2. Linking different business verticals for the same customer base, using the same infrastructure (payment, logistics etc.) 
  3. Superapps are complex to run, not a game for everyone

what is a super app

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.