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Branded iPhone Apps

by Ryan Joy — December 24, 2009

Should a branded Application for iPhone and iPod Touch be part of your new media marketing strategy? Here are 3 questions and 4 benefits to consider.

Let’s say you want to connect with a group of potential customers who will never open your printed ad. As the iPhone commercial says: “There’s an app for that.”

Apple has sold over 50 million iPhones and iPod Touches—contrast that with the 6 million people on Twitter, and you start to see the power of the platform as a marketing vehicle. The iPhone is the most popular phone in America, but the real strength of the iPhone is the App Store, a collection of over 100,000 applications that do just about anything you can imagine. As David Pogue of the New York Times put it, apps “make the iPhone (or the iPod Touch) do absolutely amazing things… stunts a cell phone has no right to perform.” Now with over a billion apps downloaded since the store opened in July 2008, brands like Target, Whole Foods, and Kraft have discovered the marketing value of a custom app.

Is an iPhone App Right for Your Stores?

Here are three questions to help you decide if an iPhone app makes sense for you:

  1. Do you already have a brand strategy and a strong web presence?If you have a well developed brand strategy and a website that supports your brand with rich content and features, then an iPhone app could be next on your list. If not, then a good iPhone app will only lead to increased disappointment with the rest of your brand experience.
  2. Are there a lot of iPhone users in your market area?If you’re in an urban area or near a university, the answer is likely yes. Considering the potential loyalty an iPhone app will foster in a customer, 3% or more would be a significant enough percentage of customers to provide a valuable return on the investment.
  3. Does an iPhone app fit your brand’s targeted demographic?According to a study by Forrester Research, 49% of iPhone users have a college education, 74% are over the age of 25 and 67% earn more than $70,000 a year. Consider whether or not this demographic segment matches your positioning strategy.

Benefits of an iPhone App

If you answered yes to the three questions above, an iPhone app should be seriously considered as you plan your marketing strategy for 2010. Here’s why:

  1. An iPhone app advertises to a hard-to-reach customer.Over 40% of iPhone users get information more frequently from their iPhones than from the radio or their computer. Over half get information from their iPhone more often than a printed newspaper. There are potential customers with discretionary income close to your store that you will never reach through traditional media. They love a good deal as much as your ad shoppers. They appreciate quality perishables as much as your core customer. You just haven’t found the right channel to reach them.
  2. A good iPhone app builds loyalty by relating to iPhone users.An iPhone app provides a personal experience with your brand. Striefler and Hanson of Media Arts Lab explain that “apps not only make the device more functional and fun, they make the iPhone a device that changes around you — the things you like, your hobbies and interests, your career, your sense of humor. Although everyone has the same hardware, the apps people choose to add make every phone unique and personal.” It’s no surprise that branded apps have become a fixture of most iPhones, since the brands we love are as much a part of our identity as our hobbies and interests. Do you love your morning caramel macchiato? Use the Starbucks app to build your drink and order ahead. Do you need to discuss your bridal registry with your fiancé? Use the Target app to add items as you think of them. Eating, cooking, and grocery shopping are lifestyle activities, and your customers deserve the courtesy and convenience of a branded app to make the experience more pleasurable. It sends a clear message: “We understand you, we’re interested in being a part of your life. We get it.” Customers will thank you with their loyalty.
  3. A custom iPhone app will strengthen your brand.A good branded app should feature a name that supports your brand, and custom graphics that reinforce your overall brand aesthetic. This should include a uniquely branded icon, load screen, and color scheme. Your tagline, and other brand messaging, should be integrated throughout the app. In a crowded marketplace full of brands struggling for attention, your iPhone app gives you a private moment with the user, allowing you to tell your story to a focused, captive audience.
  4. A useful app gives iPhone users a compelling reason to habitually choose your store as their primary grocery store.If a customer’s shopping list is in an app with your name on it, they are more likely to shop your store than the store across the street. If they can access your ad with a single touch, and build their shopping list right from the ad, they are more likely to shop your store. If they wonder what to eat for dinner, and can easily browse through cuisines that match their diet and taste preferences, and then add ingredients right back onto their list, they are much more likely to shop your store. Using your app as a life tool for managing their food shopping will reinforce a shopping pattern, and give you the chance to make a customer for life.

An iPhone app will not work as a shortcut to brand credibility, but for the right stores, it will complement the brand, strengthen relationships with customers, and be a key component of a successful marketing strategy. If you’re interested in a branded iPhone app, or any other marketing solutions, give us a call at 1-800-253-7146, or send us an email.

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