According to new data from Nielsen 62% of adults ages 25-34 owned a smartphone in the third quarter of 2011, translating into a huge opportunity for marketers to reach a broad audience on a platform that is literally tied to their hip. One way many manufacturers and retailers are making this connection is via mobile applications, which enrich the shopping experience, provide deals or discounts or add secondary value of some kind. The potential for the mobile app market has been steadily growing, yet a survey conducted by Parago in 2011 showed that only 32% of consumers had ever downloaded a shopping app. But marketers should expect this to change in 2012.
What’s changed? Smartphone users are becoming increasingly comfortable using their devices for a variety of purposes. Additionally, Americans who do use mobile apps use them frequently - 68 percent of app downloaders with iPhones and 60 percent of those with Android phones reported using their mobile apps multiple times a day. Smart businesses are taking notice and embracing the opportunities mobile provides for loyalty programs, one-to-one marketing and the reduction of fraud associated with other promotional vehicles.
Next year, expect only shopping applications that are more practical for the consumer to survive, and anticipate double-digit growth in shopping app downloads overall. Consumers are demanding apps that fit seamlessly into their purchasing habits, versus those that are difficult to use, have only peripheral benefits or are not rewarding enough. New mobile technologies will make possible, such as intuitive mobile couponing, the electronification of paper-based processes (like rebate submissions) and easy mobile commerce interfaces. These areas should see significant improvements in 2012 as consumers continue to show more trust in using their mobile devices to shop.
Which mobile approaches are likely to generate the best results with consumers? We predict that next year the top five capabilities that consumers will expect of mobile shopping apps will be:
- Find relevant deals
- Improve comparison shopping
- Download coupons on-site and in store
- Simplify the shopping experience
- Submit for rebates via mobile applications
Now that you know what to deliver, retailers and manufacturers should be warned: as mobile apps simplify the ability to find and locate deals, more and more customers will show up ready and educated on how to take advantage of them. We are approaching a new consumer mindset that any item without a deal attached to it is not a good value. Look forward to our next article, which will discuss how to excite and attract customers with deals and offers on their smartphones without depleting margins.