Apps aren’t replacing mobile browsers – at least, not yet. A new report finds that consumers use both platforms equally: 59.2% of unique visitors to the 30 most-visited mobile properties arrived via a browser, while 60.3% visited through an app.

This could benefit CPG brands, which invest far more in their mobile sites than in apps. In 2013, 35% of brand sites in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Personal Care lacked any sort of mobile optimization; this year, that number has fallen to 10%. Similarly, Food brands have raced to bring their mobile sites up to speed. Of the 69 Food brands tracked since 2014, 81% now boast mobile-optimized sites, up from 57% last year.

Mobile Site Investments Across Time

Meanwhile, app development has languished. Less than 20% of brands in L2’s Food Index maintain an iOS app, and only one in three of those have been updated in the past year. Personal Care brands have also invested little in app development. This could be a strategic choice: not only are consumers proving reluctant to switch completely from mobile browsing to apps, but social media apps also command the bulk of consumers’ attention, making it difficult for brand apps to gain App Store visibility.

However, brands can still get an advantage from launching apps with a unique functionality otherwise missing from the mobile experience. For example, The Honest Company’s “HonestBaby” app lets parents track key development milestones as well as routine activities, while Campbell’s Kitchen app includes a “Quick Ideas” section where recipes can be selected at random by shaking the phone.


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