Meditation app Inscape is incorporating a Spotify-like model to engage its user base and acquire new customers.
On Wednesday, the company, which is also behind a New York-area meditation studio, unveiled an updated app that puts daily and ever-changing playlists at the forefront, much like a music streaming service. Rather than relying on its previous functionality that had viewers scrolling through over 650 different meditations around general topics, like sleep, stress, or love and relationships, Inscape is rolling out up to 10 playlists a day, putting content and mood top of mind. Examples include “Tinder Troubles” for dealing with online dating woes and “Snap Out of It,” which focuses on energy-boosting breathing. Content areas like sleep and anxiety will have more playlists, as they are typically popular among Inscape customers.
“It’s a new way of understanding what our customers really want to listen to and how they want to listen,” said Inscape founder Khajak Keledjian.
The Inscape app
To get there, Inscape, which launched in 2016, crowdsourced users both online and offline in its studio — the company started with 1,000 customer surveys quarterly and then followed up via phone and in-person for those in the New York metro-area. Inscape then developed a proprietary algorithm with its in-house team of five to constantly change and update its playlist functionality dependent on customer preferences. Inscape would not reveal the number of subscribers it currently has but said the company is in a growth phase as its paid customer base has increased 2.5 times from 2017 to 2018.
“When we look at our usability studies, we found that customers wanted to know, ‘How is this going to help me?’ above anything else,” said Inscape head of product design Jared Cocken. “We didn’t want to be like Netflix, where you spend longer looking for a TV show than actually watching one.”
Inscape is currently ranked 75th in the Health & Fitness category in the App store, after meditation stalwarts like Calm, which was ranked by Apple as the App of the Year in 2017 and raised $27 million in Series A funding and has a $250 million valuation, and Headspace, which is ranked seventh.
By putting content front and center, Inscape hopes to differentiate itself and make inroads with users outside its 25- to 35-year-old demographic, as the mediation app space becomes increasingly crowded with other newer apps like Simple Habit and Insight Timer. Gamifying the experience is also a way for Inscape to tap further into the growing wellness opportunity, like #SelfCare app, which was created by gaming studio Tru Luv — in 2017, the global wellness industry grew by 12.8 percent to $4.2 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute. The Fitness and Mind-Body segment, specifically, grew by nearly 5 percent from 2015 to 2017 to $595 million, providing a ripe opportunity for mindfulness.
With the new app design, Inscape users will also be able to share passages from specific meditations with friends and on social media directly after listening, to counter the idea that meditation is a solo activity and one that shouldn’t be aided by technology.
“The new design is a transition from assuming our audience has an awareness of what meditation is to on-boarding and educating those non-meditators through an easy process,” said Cocken, who said 60 percent of current users currently start or end their day with an Inscape meditation.
Though there is the opportunity to launch an infinite amount of playlists on any given day, Cocken explained that Inscape is incorporating A/B testing this month to determine the ideal amount of content to feature. (At any given time, Inscape is running two customer-oriented tests.) “We’re trying to make sure there aren’t too many decisions to make on the app, because users are already inundated with notifications from social media or email,” he said.
Engagement on the app is already high: Fifty percent of Inscape users, both free and premium subscribers (those that sign up for a $58.99 per year membership), listen to more than one meditation a day, according to the company, and more than 66 percent of premium subscribers listen to upward of two Inscape meditations a day.
“As meditation becomes more mainstream, you have to account for users that are different,” said Cocken. “Not everyone is a purist.”