Ed-tech platforms cash in on pandemic; posts surge in users and time spent

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Updated: May 04, 2020 7:05 AM

As per a report by BARC India and Nielsen, there has been a 30% increase in the time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown

Responding to the high demand for online education solutions, edtech firms like Byju’s, Toppr, Unacademy and Vedantu have launched free live classes for students. Responding to the high demand for online education solutions, edtech firms like Byju’s, Toppr, Unacademy and Vedantu have launched free live classes for students.

With educational institutions shut since mid-March, schools and students are resorting to a variety of digital education tools to ensure learning continues. As per a report by BARC India and Nielsen, there has been a 30% increase in the time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown. For instance, time spent on the Byju’s app has increased from 70 minutes (pre-lockdown) to 91 minutes during the lockdown. STEPapp, a gamified learning app, has added three lakh users since March 15, 2020.

The edtech sector, which is worth Rs 15,000 crore (as per a Google-KPMG report), has been battling challenges with low B2C market penetration. The current surge in usage, hence, is proving to be pivotal.

Building a habit

Responding to the high demand for online education solutions, edtech firms like Byju’s, Toppr, Unacademy and Vedantu have launched free live classes for students. Toppr’s free live classes are for students between classes 5 and 12. Unacademy’s free live classes are available across exam categories like UPSC, bank exams and railway exams. Vedantu has offered free access to live packages, in which students can get doubts clarified live on the app.

Divya Gokulnath, co-founder and director, Byju’s, says, “We have launched free live classes to help students who have been missing a schedule. The live classes will be conducted three to four times every week. The plan was to launch this feature later in the year; we decided to introduce it early because of the lockdown.”

Edtech apps are hoping to build a habit and bring fresh users into the fold during this period. “While some may see live classes as a short-term relief, these offers will definitely help edtech platforms reach out to a larger set of audiences, who may not have seen this as being relevant to them in the past,” says Gopa Kumar, COO, Isobar India.

Edtech platforms are also working with schools to develop ways in which teachers can come on board and use tools to impart learning. STEPapp, for instance, is getting private and government schools to adopt its app. “The service is being offered free of cost to some government school children for three months,” informs Praveen Tyagi, its CEO and founder.

Educating new users

Normally, most edtech platforms offer annual academic subscriptions to students. On Byju’s, a class 10 mathematics and science package costs around Rs 30,000. An annual subscription for the academic year 2020-21 on Toppr starts at Rs 20,000, while Vedantu’s annual subscription for all subjects for a class 10 student costs Rs 48,599. Given the high cost, the penetration of edtech platforms is limited, say experts.

Toppr has decided to bring down the cost of subscriptions to get more users to the platform. “We changed our product strategy and have created packages of shorter duration to help people tide over the current crisis. We now have three-month and six-month packages starting at Rs 3,000,” says Zishaan Hayath, CEO and co-founder, Toppr.

Both Toppr and Byju’s have registered an increase in paid users during the lockdown — Toppr has seen a four-fold increase, while Byju’s has seen its paid subscriptions double.

Edtech firms have also taken to digital media to acquire users and inform people about the free live classes on offer. There has been a 128% growth in digital ad spends by edtech apps during the lockdown, as per the BARC-Nielsen report. Interestingly, it is not just the big players spending on advertising. Kumar says newer edtech platforms, too, are investing in getting more users aboard. Doubtnut and Instasolv are among the smaller players who have launched campaigns on TikTok to drive brand awareness.

Read Also: Consumers make a beeline for ayurvedic product to boost immunity

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