How apps can increase brand awareness and effectively widen the scope of your digital marketing channels

How apps can increase brand awareness and effectively widen the scope of your digital marketing channels


Apps enable users to do a variety of things whether it is finding a restaurant, ordering clothes or reading news.  They enable many international brands such as Chanel, Pepsi, Ford and many more to provide users with branded content, like Yuill (2010) suggested it provides access to consumers anywhere, and at any time to suit the users. Many apps also require customers to provide information, meaning they can monitor consumer behaviour on their app to improve their ability to create relationship marketing initiatives.


Goddard (2010) suggests apps can be categorised into four types: these are campaign based, popular gimmick, straight utilities and branded utilities. The apps that can raise awareness, promote brand to consumer and be highly utilised most effectively are branded utilities. Goddard explains that branded utilities apps are both useful and develop the brand promise. He suggests they are the most powerful types of apps, simply because engagement occurs through the functionality which is tied to the essential value of the brand.


These are apps which are useful and can be used in a consumers every-day life, promoting brand messages and also collecting information on consumers, enabling a leaner approach to their marketing strategies.

An example of this would be the Starbucks ‘early bird’ app which became popular in 2012. Starbucks along with Berghs School of Communication in Sweden developed an ‘alarm clock like’ app to reward ‘early birds’ to encourage people to get to work on time. The app would reward customers who pressed ‘wake up’ instead of ‘snooze’ by offering them a discount on their Starbucks coffee if they got to Starbucks within an hour. This app was able to be highly usable as it operates as an alarm clock and was constantly in a consumers every-day life, it was able to push Starbucks products by opening up a channel of communication which is downloaded into a consumers’ device and incentivise the consumer to purchase a Starbucks by offering a discount on a peak time for coffee sales as people go to work.


Starbuck’s mobile app has had such high usability due to the rapid customer adoption rate of the app with 19 million active users. ( However, the success of the app has caused the coffee giant problems in other areas of the business. Due to the high volumes of sales being placed via the app it has led to congestion in store and has led to walk in customers not purchasing products leading to a negative impact on their comparable sales. ( This was identified as one of the drivers for poor company growth in Q1 of 2017. In Q1 this congestion was identified in 1200 stores which was a 100% growth from the previous quarter highlighting the success an app can have in terms of improving performance.


Whilst this is a positive in certain aspects for Starbucks it also highlights something that company’s must be aware of before launching an app. Which is to understand what needs to be put in place to handle the increase in traffic an app can cause. This is a problem that can be applied wider in the business world as Tesla Motors struggle with matching production rate with the demand. You must have the foundations to expand your business upon.


Apps create a new digital channel and despite being expensive can be a valuable tool in assisting advert effectiveness in a crowded and multi-channel environment. (Xu et al 2014). Xu also found that an app can sustain awareness in a such a competitive marketplace. Recent consumer trends also emphasise further the need to sustain brand awareness on mobile as reports from Mobile Metrix show the total browse time on mobile is 156% greater than browse time on desktop in the US & 177% in the UK.


Xu et al (2014) also found that apps and mobile sites need to have different digital media strategies to have any significant benefits in a multi-channel marketplace meaning an app or a website is best suited to having a specific goal whether it is decreasing congestion in store, increasing brand awareness or increasing e-commerce. It is important to know what platform is best suited to what purpose though as a recent report from Monetate Ecommerce Quartely showed conversion rates on desktop were 232% greater than conversion rates on mobile.


However, if we look at brand awareness and customer retention increase a report from Adobe showed browsing sessions on apps are three to four times longer than those of desktops. This extra time spent on app browsing provides a great opportunity for brands to consolidate customer relationships taking advantage of the high levels of engagement.


When looking at one of the main drivers of creating an app it is to create a platform to increase engagement which is imperative to creating loyalty to a brand. Reports from Bain show repeat customers spend on average 67% more than first time and a report from Five Stars showed brand loyal customers drive approximately 80% of a company’s total revenue showing a very obvious advantage to launching an app for your business.



Fill, C & Turnbull, S (2016) – Hello, Marketing Communications, Seventh Addition


Goddard, M (2010) Sizing up a proposed app, ABA Bank Marketing 42(4), 20-23


Xu, J (2014) News media channels: complements or substitutes? Evidence from mobile phone usage. Journal of Marketing, 78 (July) 97-112


Yuill, M (2009) Smartphones and app stores driving mobile media, Admap, 503 (March), retrieved 2 June 2010 from





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