Here’s another piece I recently wrote for The Brand Show, repurposed here because I’ve been so slow to update.
We see it every day:
Retail brands pushing promotions to shoppers through mobile devices in the name of ‘engagement’.
The retailer’s goal is to demonstrate the value of its brand through emotion and experience using mobile. The problem with this push approach is that it’s shortsighted and sometimes annoying to the shopper. In fact, people pay money to remove ads and opt out of messages (or ‘engagement’) just to get them off their device.
Why do people download apps?
Shoppers download and use mobile apps for utility – to help them find something cheaper, to help them find their car, to entertain their kids while waiting in line.
So there’s a disconnect between what retail brands want and what shoppers do (or desire). And there’s a need to help connect or engage shoppers, to meet them where they are. Retail brands need to see mobile more as a utility and less as a place to push a message.
Here are a couple examples of what true mobile utility might look like:
Movie theaters spend thousands to produce spots prompting you to turn off your phone in their theaters. A mobile utility could easily turn off your ringer at theater locations using location services. And maybe, just maybe, the theater rewards you for installing its app. Here’s a free bag of popcorn.
iPhone and Android developers observed people using their mobile device as a flashlight. So they built apps that use the camera flash or screen as a light source. What a simple, purposeful innovation. Now, what if the flashlight app was branded? Or maybe even the LED flash itself? It would raise awareness of the brand, keep it top of mind and build loyalty. How many impressions is that? How valuable is that? Maglite, are you listening?
For the CFO this may begin to sound like a money pit of development (or acquisition) costs and promotional costs. The point is to look past the immediate balance sheet and numbers. To look at ways that don’t just appease the shopper, but ways that boost loyalty and value.
Mobile utility can easily become the best approach to win the hearts and minds of your shoppers. Engage with them on their terms. Why do it? Because happy shoppers are worth more.