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Should brands or services invest in a bespoke mobile app?

While a mobile app is mandated in several categories – personal banking, e-commerce, telecom to name a few, many consumer brands too perceive a need. How do they go about deciding? What factors come into play? What kind of a mobile app partner should they choose? Some thoughts published in the Brand Equity supplement of The Economic Times, a leading business daily.

Excerpts:

Mobile apps have become central to some businesses — ecommerce, airlines, banks and mobile focused services. In India, brands in these categories are investing in traditional mass media advertising to promote app downloads.

The name of the game is to get consumers to make the mobile app central to brand interaction. But what about brands or services which rely on traditional media or digital platforms to reach audiences? Should they invest in a bespoke mobile app?

Not all brands need a mobile app

Brands constantly evaluate whether they need to be present in a particular media channel or platform and the content, which best suits that channel. For some, television may be the lifeblood. YouTube and long-form content may suit another.

Presence in such platforms is considered de rigueur by almost all brands. But it often leads to what Tom Fishburne called the ‘social media ghost town’ referring to the inactivity and lack of engagement. Similarly, brands need to evaluate the reason for a mobile app with the question: ‘what will my mobile app do for my consumers that my activities in other digital platforms cannot do?’.

A luxury hotel may have a website as their main port of call for reservations, enquiries and even loyalty club activities. But a dedicated mobile app which serves as a catalogue, reservations and for loyalty program management adds ease, convenience and security.

For some businesses creating a mobile friendly website should suffice; for others, a robust presence in social media platforms should do. Even if a significant number of its target audience are active mobile app users, if a brand cannot figure out what value will accrue to consumers through a bespoke mobile app, then it may go down the ‘ghost town’ route – uninviting and unused.

What kind of a mobile app does my brand need?

Mobile app usage mostly centres on a few key ‘now-moments’. They are: bored now, urgent now and repetitive now. ‘Bored now’ is typically when one has a few minutes to kill, waiting for an event to happen. It could be at a doctor’s clinic, at an airport or on a commute. Such moments are ideal for casual games. It is difficult for brands to enter this domain as it is highly cluttered.

Read the full article here.

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