Consumers Demand Personalization, Range of Features from Brand Apps

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Many brands have rushed to hop onto the mobile app trend, but these apps risk deletion if they aren’t up to consumers’ standards. Nearly half of consumers have deleted a quarter of their brand apps, and one in five have deleted more than half, according to a survey released Wednesday by digital and mobile development firm WillowTree.

The report found that consumers are demanding more value and better experiences from company-specific apps, which—when useful to a consumer—can increase brand loyalty and drive purchases.

Two thirds of consumers surveyed by WillowTree indicated they had downloaded brand apps. Banking, restaurants, and retail were the most popular industries. This comes as no surprise, as companies in all three industries must compete fiercely for customer loyalty amid a surplus of options. 

“The newest playing field for this competition for loyalty is voice-activated speakers,” wrote Tobias Dengel, CEO of WillowTree, in an email to Street Fight. “When consumers are now barking out shopping lists to their Amazon Echo, consumer goods brands need to be on the top of that shopping list.”

Consumers demand high and varied functionality from brand apps. About three in five consumers expect promotions and exclusive deals and loyalty programs, and half want to make purchases within the app, the report indicated.

“All of these point to rewarding your customer for their purchases and their brand loyalty,” Dengel wrote. “You can reward and engage them further by adding smaller touches that make a difference, things like personalization and customization of the brand app experience.”

Brand apps could offer more features, the survey found. Half of those surveyed wanted more products or services (such as being able to find a location or order ahead), and a third wanted more customized brand experiences.

Positive experiences with brand apps can increase loyalty, especially with millennial consumers. Whereas only 28% of respondents aged 60 and over said that they view brands more favorably because of a good app, 41% of millennials said they do. And 51% of millennials said they would be more likely to buy from a brand that offered a positive in-app experience, compared to 47% of consumers overall.

These trends will only prove increasingly important as more consumers start their shopping experiences from a mobile device. “The main strategy for any engagement is to treat the mobile app as the front door to the customer experience,” Dengel wrote.

But Dengel advised thorough research into customers’ preferences before companies rush into launching a brand app. 

Half of consumers also cited negative experiences with brand apps, mostly related to a poor UX. “The fact that a large number of consumers are frustrated with the UX means there’s a lot of work to do still—even 10 years into the mobile ecosystem,” Dengel said. ”It’s not a matter of if this could change—it has to for any company to survive in an increasingly mobile-first world.”

Kate Talerico is a staff writer at Street Fight.