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Are Shopping Apps Taking on the Role of Catalogs?

Mobile shopping apps foster both brand discovery and loyalty

Mobile device usage is undoubtedly changing shoppers’ relationships with retail brands. Research from Adobe and Harris Interactive indicates that mobile retail apps, in particular, may affect the relationship for the better. According to the December study, two-fifths of smartphone and tablet shoppers said using a shopping app strengthened their connection to the brand. And roughly the same number became more favorable toward the brand after using a shopping app.

Interestingly, one in five smartphone and tablet shoppers said they would download a shopping app to become familiar with a brand. This suggests that smartphone and tablet owners are also using apps for discovery. They may be unsure what a brand sells, and instead of visiting that brand’s website or ducking into a nearby store, they are downloading the brand’s mobile app to peruse its products or offerings. In this way, smartphone and tablet users are using mobile apps like they would a retail catalog.

In terms of how shoppers learn about those apps, survey respondents primarily found out about new shopping apps from app stores (42%), but 37% also said they found out about them from friends. Additionally, websites and Facebook were other drivers of mobile app discovery.

Mobile apps are not only about discovery and loyalty, however. Three in 10 US mobile app users told Harris Interactive in a separate August study that they wanted retailers to offer mobile apps to save them time when looking for items. And one in four wanted mobile apps to ensure they weren’t missing out on store deals and offers.

A note of caution for retailers that have not yet invested in mobile: One in five respondents said not having a mobile app could make a retailer appear old-fashioned.

Further demonstrating the link between mobile app usage and loyalty, 7% of Harris Interactive survey respondents said not offering a mobile app could hurt their loyalty to that retailer. The same percentage of respondents said it could mean the retailer doesn’t respect its customers.

Although some mobile app users may be more reliant on shopping apps than others, the Harris Interactive and Adobe studies point to favorable consumer attitudes toward apps, especially when it comes to brand affinity and brand discovery. Not only do consumers expect and want mobile apps from their favorite stores, but a good amount are also using the app ecosystem to find new retail favorites.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Local Digital Ads Take Center Stage for SMBs” and “Record Mobile Christmas for Sweden.”

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