2019, n=95 Brands

  • Key

    Leaders (8%) integrate premium features such as credit card scanners, in-store modes and biometrics into their apps while also leveraging both paid and organic assets to maximize their apps’ discoverability. Leaders turn to app stores, Google search, social media and their own websites to market their apps. Leader brands excel at digital innovation and loyalty, and include adidas, Domino’s and Sephora.


    Content-First (31%) brands maintain best-in-class app features, from biometric login to wish lists and in-store finders. However, they invest relatively little in advertising their apps on digital platforms. These brands need to ramp up ad spend to improve core KPIs like downloads and active users. Content-first brands are most often found in the activewear, department store and specialty retail sectors, and the category includes Nike, Best Buy and Macy’s.


    Marketing-First (15%) brands prioritize paid levers over the app experience itself. These brands defend their own search terms in the app store while also bidding against competitor terms. They make sure to leverage deep linking in Google search as well as banner ads on their mobile sites. Marketing-first brands often lack physical stores, giving them an added incentive to build digital audiences. These brands boasted 154% more downloads on average in 2018, and 482% more than Laggards. Examples include Amazon, Chewy and Wayfair.


    Laggards (46%) deliver underwhelming app experiences and also do not prioritize apps in their marketing budgets. These brands (including Albertsons, Foot Locker and Four Seasons) need to reconsider the utility of their apps by viewing the app road map, and then integrate them more prominently into their marketing strategy. Grocers and hotels were the most likely to be classified as Laggards.

    Average Line

    To benchmark app content and marketing performance, Gartner L2 tracked both retailers and DTC brands. Brands were then plotted on a two-dimensional grid based on the robustness of their iOS app features versus their paid marketing efforts through the iOS App Store, in-app ad networks and Google search, as well as app banner ads on brand mobile sites. Based on this analysis, brands were placed within distinct quadrants: Leaders, Content-First, Marketing-First or Laggards. In cases where a brand had multiple apps, Gartner L2 selected the brand’s primary, commerce-enabled app. Overall, iOS app categories included Shopping, Lifestyle, Food & Drink and Travel. Gartner L2 focused solely on iOS apps and did not assess the Android versions.

    View the Mobile 2019 Intelligence Report