In a world where consumers are consistently bombarded by branded communications, differentiation has always been the holy grail of advertisers and marketers. However, the pragmatist in us admires something which is useful as well as a marketing tool, and a new wave of smartphone apps which provide both have been a huge success. In fact, eMarkerter reports that more than half of mobile device users worldwide said they regularly used brand, product or store apps, according to a February 2013 study conducted by Ipsos. And in addition, when a consumer uses a branded mobile app, it may be indicative of higher purchase intent as 52% said the app made them more interested in buying from that company.
Therefore, we’ve picked out below a few of the best branded apps on the market, all of which offer additional value and build on their brand halo without so much as a Mobile banner present:
Nike iOS running app: Train like you mean it
As described by Nike, you can ‘map your runs, track your progress, and get the motivation you need to keep going. The Nike+ Running app tracks distance, pace, time and calories burned with GPS, giving you audio feedback as you run. Automatically upload to nikeplus.com to see your runs, including your route, elevation and NikeFuel.’ Consumers can also share their run-times with friends, adding that competitive element to its user’s runs, as well as opt to be updated on the weather and earn badges depending on their runnning goals.
Ikea augmented reality app: IKEA Catalogue Comes To Life
“IKEA customers are increasingly using their smartphones as a shopping companion and so the company wanted to continue to find ways to inspire them and facilitate a better shopping experience.” says Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, Public Relations Manager at IKEA. “IKEA has developed a way to help customers get over the age-old barrier of ‘does this product fit with what I already have?’”
The full 2014 IKEA Catalogue can also be viewed on the web or through the IKEA Catalogue App, available for both iOS and Android. Last year’s global launch of the IKEA Catalogue App has so far resulted in 8.5 million downloads, with more than 42 million visits to the digital catalogue via the App or online.
eBay Mobile: Scan before you bid on-the-go
The eBay Mobile app’s integration of a bar code scanner allows users to scan products in a store for price comparisons while shopping or even scan products that they plan to sell. In both cases, the app pulls up all relevant products and lets the user go from there. In addition, users can set up notifications and bid alerts to let them know when their item is ending, when they’ve been outbid, won or sold an item, received an offer, payment or message, and more.
Overall, promotion and awareness drivers are essential to an app’s success, especially when so many app downloads are dictated by the ranking system which iStore and GooglePlay implement in their online stores. As explained by Forbes, ‘this means your app should have content that’s easily shared on social media, so you encourage viral marketing. Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations, so it’s worth creating an app that makes a big impact’. Ultimately though, it would seem that apps which act as an aid to a user’s life (e.g. shortening the path to purchase, measuring the user’s progress in some way, shopping extensions, enabling the sharing of an experience and so on) are the ones which break through the app stores and do well on the open market. Alongside usefulness, making these apps interactive, relevant and ergonomic are essential to success, ensuring that the user experience matches up to the goals of the app developers.