U.S. consumers spend 86% of their 2.5 hour-a-day mobile device habit on apps. The popularity of games such as Candy Crush has created an app frenzy among brands who neglect that 75% of consumer app-time is spent on gaming, Facebook, social media, and YouTube. Data from app stores supports the lack of enthusiasm for the lifestyle content on most brand apps. 39% of brand apps on Apple have received no feedback from users and 23% have not been updated beyond the initial release. Even though brands continue to invest in mobile apps (1/3 of 304 apps reviewed in the Intelligence Report: Mobile & Tablet were released in the part 15 months), it is expected to taper.
But a few bright spots exist amidst the dismal data. Among the four verticals examined in the L2 study (Fashion, Watches & Jewelry, Beauty and Retail), retailers have 2.4 times the user ratings and receive on average one higher star. The enthusiasm for apps in this category is in part due to practicality. The Home Depot app, for example, searches for items in various brick and mortar locations. Its “See it Now” augmented reality feature allows consumers to test large items in their home before purchasing. L’Occitane and The North Face apps have camera-enabled barcode scanners, providing another function impossible to replicate on the mobile site. Net-A-Porter released a mobile app concurrent with its Porter magazine, and promoted it with a contest asking users to upload self-portraits overlaid with magazine logo.
So even though brands should steer clear from centering their mobile strategy on app, there is room for apps that offer a gamification element or utility beyond a mobile site.