Study: Mobile Apps Can Help Build Your Brand

Image courtesy Indiana University

If you’ve been considering building a branded app as part of your mobile marketing strategy, a new study provides some ammunition in favor of the move. Researchers at Indiana University and Murdoch University in Australia found that mobile apps had a positive impact on brand favorability and purchase intent.

Study participants were asked to rate their feelings toward various brands before interacting with their apps and afterwards. On a scale of 1 to 7, before the interaction they rated the brands at 5.25, on average. After the interaction, that rating climbed to 5.49. The researchers also asked about purchase intent. Pre-interaction, on average, they said they were 46.75% likely to buy the products. Afterwards, that number rose to 48.63%.

The study also found that apps that were more informational in style — providing product reviews, deals information or cooking tips — were more effective in engaging users, as compared to experiential game- or entertainment-oriented applications.

Researchers came to their conclusions by surveying 225 American and Australian consumers before and after they spent time interacting with apps in the laboratory. With the Australian subjects, the researchers wired them up to measure things like heart rate and skin conductance, to ascertain whether their physical reactions were consistent with engagement or not. The assumption, based on past research, was that when the heart rate was low, people were externally focused, and when the heart rate was high, they were internally focused — more personally engaged.

“We found through the physiology measures that when you have an app that provides people with information that it is something they internalize and personalize more than the external-based focus of the game-based app,” Indiana University researcher Robert F. Potter explained in a press release. “You’ve invited the brand into your life and onto your phone. If it’s an informational app, you’re inviting that brand even deeper in, because now you’re thinking about what’s in your life and apply it to the things that the apps are presenting you with. With the experiential app, things are still kept at a distance — you’re still experiencing it on your phone and not in your life.”

The researchers looked at apps from Best Buy, Gillette, BMW, Weber, Gap, Kraft, Lancôme and Target.

Informational apps, which the researchers said provided more engagement, included one by Kraft, which provided tips about cooking with their food products, and one by Target, which allowed users to see deals and access product reviews by scanning bar codes. Study participants were less engaged by the Gap application, which let users dress a virtual model, and the BMW app, which allowed users to configure a virtual replica of one of its cars and take it for an electronic test drive.

The lesson for marketers is that apps that provide utility in people’s lives — things they can relate to their own needs and desires — will be more successful in being persuasive. Those that are more game- or entertainment-focused will have less of an impact. Though the informational apps may require more creative ideation and development, the payoff will be better from this approach.

The biggest challenge, of course, comes after the app is developed, as marketers strive to promote the app itself, so it is downloaded and used — thereby building the brand.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is executive features editor of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported on, written about and worked in digital media and marketing for more than 10 years. She is a previous managing editor of ClickZ and has worked on the other side of digital publishing, helping independent publishers monetize their sites in her work at Federated Media Publishing.

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  • Alex Dany
  • Jeff McNeill

    Brand building is one thing, purchase intent however is the main thing. That shows the value of the app.

  • Lewis Newmark

    When it comes to the use of mobile devices, I have to say I just use my phone to make phone calls. That being said, the world of mobile devices and their technology is growing exponentially and every few seconds there’s another new “app” being touted for a smart device, so the future looks bright for this marketing segment.

    If big companies are trying to expand their web presence into this new area, now would be the time to do it, and I have to agree with Jeff’s comment also…these companies want to make it easier to make that purchase, but brand building via it’s use shouldn’t be ignored either. I guess time will tell if this becomes the next big thing or if extinction claims it like it did the dinosaurs.

    Nice article Pamela


  • Erfan Djazmi

    Interesting update Pamela.

    Brands start delivering real value when they build apps that are unique and offer a clear user benefit to the user.

    Mobile gaming is a channel that offers scale and shifts in brand metrics (purchase intent, awareness etc) when executed correctly. The dwell times experienced playing mobile games can be in most cases higher than any other medium.

    Take a look at Fanta’s latest Mobile game case study –

  • djackria

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