Headspace vs Calm: A Comparative Analysis of Customer Reviews πŸ“ˆ

Sheila Bugal on August 8, 2021
Feedback Analysis

I invite you to take a deep breath, get in the right headspace, be calm…..

For a moment, think about balance – what does it mean to you? Have you considered Zen-ing up your life before πŸ§˜? In today’s review, we compare Headspace and Calm through the lens of their respective customer reviews. Using Caplena’s text analytics tool, codes are assigned to the reviews based on their properties.

It doesn’t get more honest than that! 

All data for this article was obtained with Caplena’s latest feature – which allows you to import data directly from eight different review sites.

It’s easy as pie πŸ₯§! Simply copy & paste the link and let Caplena do all the dirty work for you.

Curious? Try it out here and go to ‘Integrations‘. Learn more about integrations here.

Background Information: Headspace vs Calm

Headspace vs Calm logos. Headspace has an orange sun smiling from underneath the logo writing whilst Calm has a simple wording logo against a blue background.

Headspace and Calm appear to be blissfully tranquil behind their pleasant aesthetics. In reality, however, they are battling for supremacy over the $1.2 billion meditation market. While it may seem fierce on paper, Calm’s CEO swears that the competition is really not as intense as it seems.

Michael Acton Smith

Taking Buddha’s words to heart, it would appear these CEOs wear their egos like loose-fitting garments. Practicing inner peace regularly will surely reap a multitude of benefits. Meditation has been proven to enhance sleep, mood, and anxiety – as well as offer mental, emotional, social, and physical benefits. As a result of COVID, mental health issues have skyrocketed, resulting in an increased demand for mental health apps. Statista predicts that meditation apps will grow by 8.5% annually from 2019-2029.

Example 1 – Covid & Mental Health

Two  barchart reports on the effects of COVID-19 on people's mental health in the UK and US. Since COVID, 19% reported symptoms of depression in the UK and 42% in the US.

Headspace vs Calm Ratings

For the purpose of this comparison, we imported 10,000 reviews per platform to analyze within Caplena. In terms of customer satisfaction, we found that Headspace scored four out of five stars on the customer satisfaction scale (see Example 2 below), while Calm scored three out of five stars. But let’s get to the core of the matter: Analyzing the free-text responses. Here are the insights we gained πŸš€

Example 2 – Customer Satisfaction Scores

🟠 Headspace

πŸ”΅ Calm

Headspace NPS Score of 4
Calm NPS Score of 3

Headspace vs Calm Analysis – General & Negative Insights

Based on an analysis of both app reviews, the main positive codes included: Wide Selection of Programs, Liked the Narrators, Better Overall Mental Health, Less Anxiety, and Better Sleep. Intriguingly, there are also several reviews that praise the app – but then also criticize it in the same response. At Caplena, we would describe this as a verbatim response with two contradictory sentiments (see Example 3). 

When conducting feedback analysis, responses like this are quite common. Many of us find aspects of one thing enjoyable while other parts of that same thing are unpleasant. Oftentimes, an AI will get easily confused by this and mislabel the response. Luckily, Caplena uses sentiment analysis to effectively categorize two contradictory statements from a single source πŸ™Œ

Example 3 – Two Sentiments in One Verbatim Response

Notice how customers point out something positive “I do like this app” followed by something negative “but it would be better if there were more free things.” Caplena gives these two specific codes and then accordingly categorizes them.

When taking a closer look at the apps separately, we found the combination of Negative Billing and the aforementioned positive codes to predominantly affect Headspace users. This is not to say, however, that Headspace has more negative reviews βœ‹! Calm has twice as many Billing Negative and Too Expensive codes (see Example 4 for comparison). This is an interesting insight considering both apps have the same annual cost of $69.99.

Without pointing fingers, Cost and Billing issues seem to be the major problem for both apps. However, reviewers were more likely to praise and point out something negative in the same statement for Headspace – than for Calm.

Example 4 – Bar Chart Comparison of Both Apps

Barchart comparing Calm and Headspace in various category frequencies, for example, negative billing, better overall mental health, narrator's voice, better sleep, etc.
Here you can compare the codes that showed up at a considerable level during the analysis.

Headspace vs Calm Analysis – Positive Insights

Because we are knit-picking on such a small scale, let’s also talk about the many positive features both apps have! Let’s begin by looking at overall customer satisfaction – what do people rave about the most?


Most popular with Headspace is how the programs are structured, helping with Anxiety 😌 Better Sleep πŸ’€ and Better Overall Mental Health 🧘. Improved Focus πŸ’­ has a higher rating than Calm. (See Example 5).


Most popular in the Calm app: Liked the Narrators 🎀, Better Sleep πŸ’€ and Overall Mental Health 🧘. Good Music & Ambient Sounds 🎡 have a higher rating than Headspace, too. (See Example 6).

Example 5 – 🟠 Headspace Rating Scores

Example 6 – πŸ”΅ Calm Rating Scores

Barchart for Headspcae with rating scores.
Barchart for Calm with rating scores.

To distinguish the two further – we made Caplena look for links that occurred less frequently. We found that the Like the Narrators code was also highly present in Headspace reviews – though less often than for Calm. Positives remained unchanged for Calm. In a similar manner to Headspace, users found the app to be helpful while also criticizing it in the same statement (mainly) for its pricing.

Still unsure? Let’s dive deeper into the details.

Most often mentioned for Calm were its Sleep Stories as well as Liked the Narrators and Nature Sounds. While mindfulness teacher Tamara Levitt πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ primarily narrates Calms sessions – Andy Puddicombe πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ narrates the Headspace sessions. Although it may be a small detail, if you prefer a specific accent, you should keep this in mind when choosing – especially since meditation involves a lot of listeningπŸ‘‚ 

Andy Puddicombe, narrator of Headspace, giving a presentation in a blue shirt.
Credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit
Tamara Levitt, Calm narrator, smiling at the beach.
Credit: Photoshoot for Experience Life Magazine 2019

Headspace reviewers appreciated the Wide Selection of Programs the app offers, as well as how easily the app guided them through the process✨ This can be helpful for those who find themselves overwhelmed when confronted with too many choices. Calm, on the other hand, puts you in the driver’s seat 🏎️ and enables you to pick something very specific that speaks to your current state of mind. Depending on how much detail and choice you want, this is an important factor.

Another difference that comes down to personal preference is that Headspace offers three, five, or ten-minute segments for meditation – whereas Calm is more focused on longer meditation sessions (think 10 minutes and up). Last but not least, they differ in their art styles as well. Headspace uses graphics with strangely relaxing bright colors – while Calm offers soothing real-life pictures of serene environments.  


Both apps were very much praised by reviewers – although sometimes the price was an issue. It was genuinely hard to find more than a few reviews which did not like the apps for other reasons. Thousands of reviews suggest that these two meditation applications are capable of doing a great deal of good for your mental health.

Calm seems to be more focused on longer, very specific meditations with a lot of choices. Headspace is more focused on shorter spurts of meditation, general mental well-being, and guiding you through all the steps. The money factor is widely disputed, but at the end of the day, a majority of the reviews clearly show that it is worth it. The choice is yours – we’re just bringing the feedback analysis 😜

Interested in more insights? Here’s our interactive dashboard, where you can view, interact with, and read individual reviews. Here’s a glimpse of how it looks:

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