Study: Informational apps prove to be most effective branding opportunity

Consumers were more likely to feel positively toward a brand after engaging with a mobile app sponsored by the company, according to a recent study co-authored by a University of Indiana professor.

Robert F. Potter, director of the Institute for Communication Research at IU Bloomington, conducted a study of around 225 people, gauging their responses to eight different brands' mobile apps.

The companies used in the mobile marketing study were Best Buy, Gillette, BMW, Weber, Gap, Kraft, Lancome and Target.

According to Marketing Land, Potter asked participants to rate their feelings toward the brands on a scale of 1 to 7 before and after they interacted with the apps. Prior to engaging, respondents' average feeling toward the apps was 5.25[;] after interaction that mean rose to 5.49. When asked about their intentions to purchase a product by that brand prior to app engagement, 46.75 percent stated they were likely to do so, while 48.63 percent reported they would post-app usage.

"We found a double benefit," Potter said. "First, the app increases the general interest in the product category that you're trying to sell, and then the app also improves the attitude that you have toward the sponsoring brand ... and the purchase intention that you have towards the product - your product."

Potter also found a correlation between providing an informational app - i.e. one that offers product reviews or deals - to one that focuses on game-playing. He noted that informational styles are effective at shifting purchasing intentions, because users are now thinking about how the brand will affect or fit in with their lifestyles. Experiential apps keep users at a distance because after the game is over, they have no further effect on their lives.

Kraft provided one of the better examples of an informational app, as it offered tips for cooking and entertaining guests with its food products. Furthermore, Target's app was interactive and let shoppers browse for discounts and access product reviews by scanning bar codes.

Potter found that in general, users have a more personal connection with their mobile phones compared to a website. The process of downloading an app evokes a feeling of ownership, and offers a "deeper level of interactivity," he pointed out.

Advertisers who have yet to include a mobile app in their marketing repertoire should consider it, as it's becoming a burgeoning new way to appeal to new and different types of customers.