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A Hindu devotion app has seen a surge in users as a result of the pandemic. As consumers look for ways to continue practising their faith from home, brands that show a deep understanding of the intricacies of a specific religious practice will fare well in gaining trust and loyalty among devotees. We explore the insights behind this and why the app has successfully translated Hindu worship into online format.

VR Devotee is an app that livestreams Hindu temple services, festivals, and events at holy sites. Although the app was founded in 2016, its user base has expanded exponentially during COVID-19. Since India’s lockdown in March 2020, VR Devotee has seen an increase of up to 40% in use, mainly for live streams. “The amount of time people are spending on the app is really skyrocketing,” says John Kuruvilla, one of the app’s founders. 

The app has made it possible for those in lockdown, as well as those with mobility issues, to continue to practice their faith at a distance. Some users have developed app habits that are likely to stick after the pandemic, as ”temples can be busy, can be distracting, uncomfortable. VR Devotee is better!”

VR Devotee allows Hindus to worship remotely
Steve Rybka (2019) ©

India has a rich religious culture, counting 966 million Hindus alone. And although there are already global apps, such as Headspace, Gaia, and Spiritual Stories Daily, that encompass a collection of spiritualities, what contributes to VR Devotee's success is its nuanced understanding of the practices and beliefs of one religion within one local culture. VR Devotee aims to be “not a clone of a firm successful in Europe or the US, but something uniquely Indian,” says Kuruvilla. Brands looking to develop solutions for distant worship are likely to find a loyal audience in offerings that cater to targeted belief systems with sensitivity, as devoted worshippers may be put off by mainstream consumer spirituality offerings.

Polina Norina is a senior behavioural analyst at Canvas8. She has a background in editorial project management and copywriting, and has previously worked on New York Times bestsellers in trade publishing and international comms projects for companies like Airbus. Outside of work, you can find her learning new languages, reading non-fiction or discovering new design innovations.

Canvas8

07 Sep 20
2 min read

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