ASO App Store Category Spotlight: Food and Drink Apps

You may have noticed a trend in the Apple App Store: Food & Drink apps have exploded in popularity. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic. Maybe we’re all just bored of washing up. Whatever the reason, the Food & Drink category is hot.

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So for our eighth installment in our App Category Spotlight series, we’re taking a look at the 25 top-grossing apps in the Food & Drink category (as of May 31st, 2021) to discover what developers are doing from an ASO standpoint to ensure their apps cater (sorry for the pun) for the masses.

In this in-depth analysis we’ll cover:

  • Important ASO strategies used by the top Food & Drink apps
  • Tips and tricks you can implement to run better ASO experiments

Disclaimer: The information used in this article is publicly available. The conclusions drawn are based on years of extensive research, experience, and industry trends

What’s a Food and Drink App?

The Food & Drink category in the iOS store is all about, obviously, food and drinks.

Over the past few years, these apps have become incredibly popular. In fact, revenue in the online food delivery industry is projected to reach US$31,908m in 2021. It’s then expected to grow another 5.8% in 2022. All in all, 111 million Americans used a Food & Drink app in 2020.

It’s safe to say that Food & Drink apps are BIG business! But what can you actually do with a Food & Drink app? Well, that really depends on the app…

Some of the apps we analyzed—Uber Eats, for instance—enable customers to order food from a variety of restaurants and have it delivered to their doorsteps. Others are owned and operated by specific restaurant chains and give customers the chance to earn rewards every time they order. The Starbucks app is a good example.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you read through our analysis:

  • We’re analyzing the 25 highest grossing Food & Drink apps as of May 31st, 2021.
  • This article only covers Food & Drink apps in the US Apple App Store.
  • Food & Drink is a standalone category, meaning it has no sub-categories.
  • While many of the apps at the top of the Food & Drink category are household names, it’s still crucial to have high-level ASO strategies. Even a slight bump in CVR can lead to a lot more green. As such, you’ll learn top-notch ASO strategies with us.

Everything make sense? Great, then let’s dive in!

Food and Drink Apps: Icons

First, we’ll take a look at icons—the only element that appears everywhere.

Think about it, if you run a Facebook ad to promote your app, potential users will see your app’s icon. If your app appears in search results, users will see the icon. And if your app gets popular enough to hit a category chart, users will… that’s right: see the icon.

This is why app icon optimization can boost CVR by as much as 20%!

So how do the top-grossing apps in the Food & Drink category handle them? The first thing we noticed in our analysis is that there aren’t a wide range of colors used. In fact, 12 out of the 25 apps we looked at (48%) use the color red in some way.

The next thing we noticed was the kind of icon used by Food & Drink apps. 92% of them use a branded icon, i.e. an icon that clearly displays a brand’s logo. The two apps that didn’t use a branded icon, Chuck E. Cheese and Little Caesars, used character-based icons instead.

Titles and Subtitles

Related to your app’s icon is it’s title and subtitle. Because of this, we wanted to take a moment to learn what the top Food & Drink apps do in these sections. Here’s what we found:

  • 60% of the apps we analyzed only use their brand names in the title. If you search for “Chipotle” in the iOS store, for example, you’ll see that the Chipotle app is named “Chipotle”. This isn’t always the case, which leads us to…
  • 36% of the apps we analyzed mention the word “Delivery” in their titles, which helps clarify for potential users what they can do with these apps. The Instacart app is a good example. Its title reads, “Instacart: Grocery Deliveries”.
  • Little Caesars is the only top app in this category that does NOT make use of the subtitle section. This is a missed opportunity. Sure, Little Caesars is a well-known brand. But clarifying the purpose and/or benefit of your app in the subtitle never hurts.
  • Every other app uses a subtitle. 20 of them explain what you can do with their app. For instance, OpenTable’s subtitle says, “Find Restaurant Reservations” which succinctly pinpoints the purpose of the app and even hints at the benefit of using it.

Before we end this section, we need to highlight Taco Bell’s approach. The fast food titan’s title is “Taco Bell – For Our Fans”, which creates a feeling of exclusivity and brings the user in which could entice more downloads. A potential user might see Taco Bell’s title and think, “I’m all about that Cheesy Gordita Crunch. I should install the app and see what’s up!”

Taco Bell uses a subtitle that explains what you can do with the app: “Order your favorite food now.” This combination of exclusivity and practicality is powerful!

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s important to test and optimize your icon. Doing so could significantly increase CVR
  • When in doubt, use the color red in your icon because it easily catches the eye
  • A branded icon is your best bet unless you have a well-known character to display
  • Use your title and subtitle sections to explain succinctly why users should download your app
  • If your app features a delivery option, consider mentioning this in your title or subtitle
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something new, like Taco Bell

Food and Drink Apps: Videos

Should you use a video to promote your app in the Food & Drink category?

Video is a powerful tool. Get yours right and you could boost your conversions by 40%. But get it wrong and watch your CVR plummet by the same amount. Every ASO expert has their own opinion, but we stand firmly in the “video is awesome!” camp.

The secret to creating a killer video for your app is experimentation. Start with tried and true principles; then test different things until you find a winner. What are these tried and true principles we speak of? We’re glad you asked…

  • The first 1-3 seconds of a video are the most important.Get right to the action. It’s what users want to see
  • The average App Store user watches a video for 6-8 seconds. You need to start your videos fast. Don’t waste vital seconds on branded splash screens
  • 65-70% of users decide to download an app or not in the first 3-6 seconds.Did we mention how important it is to start your videos fast and skip branded hashtags?

Unfortunately, some of the most popular apps in the Food & Drink category don’t follow this sage advice. Take Pizza Hut, for example.

Pizza Hut’s video does a lot of things right: it uses in-app footage to showcase how easy the Pizza Hut app is to use – a differentiation many developers in this category ignored: Remember, it will be hard for a screenshot or a video to tell users how tasty your food is from just witnessing nice pictures, it will be smarter to inform them how easy and fast it is to order food using their apps. Pizza Hut also uses captions to explain app benefits in a smart way. Unfortunately, the video starts with a branded splash screen, which means some users will immediately get bored with the video and turn it off before they get to any of the good stuff.

All in all, only 20% of the top-grossing Food & Drink apps use video. They are McDonalds, Instacart, Gopuff, Dutch Bros, and the aforementioned Pizza Hut.

Rather than describe each individual video, we’ll tell you what each of the apps that we analyzed do right:

  • All of the app videos use fairly quick clips that keep users interested. Long shots bog app videos down and should be avoided if at all possible
  • All of the app videos make good use of captions. Captions help clarify what users are seeing and can be used to explain app benefits
  • None of the app videos rely too heavily on sound. In fact, three of the five videos don’t use sound at all. This is important because 98% of app store users watch video without sound. In a nutshell, backing tracks are fine; voiceovers generally aren’t

You have an important decision to make: will you use video to promote your Food & Drink app? We suggest that you do. After all, our research indicates that users who watch app videos are three times more likely to download an app.

But you MUST optimize your videos for better results. If you don’t, you could harm your conversion rate rather than improve it.

Key Takeaways:

  • An optimized app video can boost CVR by 20%, while an unoptimized video can lower CVR by 20%. You need to get your video right in order to succeed!
  • The best app videos start fast and use short clips to keep users interested. Do yourself a favor and skip the branded splash screens
  • Captions are incredibly handy and can be used to explain features, clarify benefits, and more. Use captions rather than voiceover content for these purposes

Food and Drink Apps: Screenshots

Next up: screenshots used by top-grossing apps in the Food & Drink category. But first, let’s cover a few general bits of information related to screenshots. Our research indicates that:

  • Optimized screenshots can boost conversions by as much as 28%
  • Unfortunately, untested screenshots can lower conversions by 15-25%
  • Users are 10X more likely to look at screenshots than read descriptions

Using the same creatives in the iOS store and the Google Play store can decrease installs by 20-30%. Different stores require different creatives

What do these statistics tell us? That the screenshots you choose for your app—no matter what category it falls into—are SUPER important. With that in mind, let’s look at how the most popular Food & Drink apps handle their screenshots…

First things first, every app we analyzed for this article uses portrait-style screenshots. Digging deeper, we also see that every app uses at least a few screenshots to show in-app footage.

Additionally, 96% of the apps analyzed make frequent use of captions. Dominos is the only app that doesn’t. Like we mentioned in the section above about app videos, captions allow developers to expound on the features and/or benefits of their apps.

“Okay,” you’re thinking, “this is all really good information. But what I really want to know is how many screenshots should I use?” Alas, the answer to that question is unclear…

The number of screenshots used by top apps in the Food & Drink category ranges from 3 to 10. Though we did find that a majority of apps (68%) use at least six screenshots. Remember that the vast majority of users are only watching 2-3 screenshots – make sure yours tell coherent stories.

Anything else? Two more things actually:

Firstly, 36% of the apps we analyzed in this category start their screenshot gallery with an artistic image that does NOT display in-app footage. This 36% use their first screenshot to reinforce the benefit of downloading their app, or to build their brands.

Secondly, almost half of the apps analyzed use panoramic screenshots. A panoramic screenshot is an image that spans across two or more images in the App Store gallery.

Key Takeaways:

  • Screenshots are an incredibly important part of your ASO strategy
  • You should use your screenshots to display in-app footage
  • Use captions in your screenshots to clarify features, explain benefits, etc
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative with your screenshots. Try starting your gallery with an artistic image. Or create panoramic screenshots to help pull users from one image to the next

Your Turn: Supercharge ASO For Your Food and Drinks App

Food & Drink apps allow users to order food, earn rewards, and otherwise streamline the culinary experience. As such, they’ve become incredibly popular, leading to a glut of new apps hitting the market. To stand out in this category, you need to develop a winning ASO strategy. Fortunately, the takeaways in the analysis will help!

Put the tips and tricks outlined above into practice. Then track your efforts, analyze your results, and adjust your game plan to take your app to new heights.


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