The Retail Differentiator: The Brand App
In today’s media-saturated and consumer-empowered world, retail companies are under extreme pressure to differentiate themselves or risk being lost in a constantly expanding sea of white noise. This is especially true of the brand app, in that a continually growing landscape of apps has left many brands hesitant to put much budget or effort into an app that’s unlikely to stand out. But this could be a costly mistake.
We at WillowTree wanted to know if the brand app, a mobile app designed to extend the brand experience beyond a company’s core product or service offering, could be worthy of a much bigger seat at the table — worth putting time into instead of being a list item to cross off. And to do this, we had to know what consumers really think and what keeps them coming back to and engaging with brand apps, so we surveyed over 1,000 consumers to get their insight.
In our report, The Brand App Experience: Value, Purpose, and Brand Loyalty, we noted that even though app stores may be overflowing, 83 percent of consumers still agree that brands can add more value to the overall brand experience through an app. And over three-quarters (77 percent) download the apps of the brands they’re loyal to.
Starting at the beginning, we asked why consumers install retail brand apps. Over 70 percent said they’re looking to access promotions and exclusive deals or products. Over half of consumers also point to easier access to loyalty programs and/or the ability to make a purchase as drivers of their decision.
While they may decide to download for the money-saving potential, once consumers are in a brand app, their expectations only increase. The majority of consumers (65 percent) expect to be able to track their purchase history in a retail brand app, while over half also expect some sort of personalization.
As a part of the overall retail experience, the brand app provides a unique opportunity for retailers to combine digital and physical experiences and create omnichannel access to their business. Improving and/or customizing other brand experiences through the app was listed among the top value drivers for consumers. Incorporating additional functionality (e.g., online ordering and tracking) increases value and creates the seamless experience people are looking for.
The App Aftermath
Not only do experiences with brand apps affect purchasing habits, but they can be make-or-break for reviews, referrals and overall loyalty.
Positive experiences with retail apps lead to purchases through the app and increased brand loyalty, and over two-thirds of consumers will sign up for loyalty programs. Similarly, a negative experience with a brand app could hinder growth. Thirty percent say that if they have a negative experience with a brand app, they would make fewer purchases from that brand and would be less likely to recommend that brand to others. And if that’s not bad enough, 24 percent said they would be less loyal to the brand, and 68 percent said they would simply delete the app.
As markets become increasingly saturated, retailers are tasked with differentiating themselves and creating memorable customer experiences that will drive loyalty. In order to do that, they need to be closer to their customers than ever and create relationships, not just sales. After our research, we’re happy to report that even though there’s now an app for everything, brand apps still hold enormous potential to be the tool that sets your brand apart from the rest. And as consumers continue to move to mobile, it might just be a better time than ever to build a strategy.