THE BLOG

Color Me App-le

10/31/2012 10:25 pm 22:25:27 | Updated Jan 21, 2013

In the short time I've had my iPhone 5 it has been form breaking. Personally and professionally, reactively and proactively, it has revolutionized how I interact, access information, and process my day.

Worth noting that my smartphone upgrade was from the BlackBerry Curve to the iPhone, so perhaps more of a monumental shift in user experience then simply migrating within the line. In any case, I've been enlightened.

Among other features, its digital camera capabilities (i.e., high picture quality, real-time social site uploading, panorama functionality, and time-saving factor) are creating a dynamic moment in the picture capturing and sharing space. Just as the digital camera largely displaced film, the iPhone's camera is making the digital camera increasingly obsolete.

I've been on the Apple diet for several weeks now, and as much as I love the new glow I've been supporting, I have to admit that I've also got a bit of a stomach ache. And it's primarily due to application (app) overload.

The app marketplace is a lot to take in and digest. There are 700,000-plus apps in the iPhone store, the majority of which are free or offered at very low cost, and I've downloaded and used less than .002 percent of them. The apps I do use are tied to what I care most about and representative of what is most additive to my life.

In considering what I download I've become a lot pickier. Relevancy has really become crucial.

We're living in a world where there is an app for everything and everything has an app. Yet not every app is appropriate for how consumers want to engage with given brands.

The arc of consumerism starts with a basic need and solving for and understanding the dichotomy of that need at the intersection of digital and physical will make brands relevant. Beginning to think about the brand and business implications of consumers' varying "app"etites is becoming even more imperative as smartphone adoption rates continue to surge.

How brands engage with consumers throughout their pathway to purchase is as important as identifying the physicality of the type of store consumers ultimately frequent. Understanding how shoppers view a virtual product aisle versus a physical shelf set is just as important as understanding the nature of planned versus impulse purchases.

A brand's goal is to seamlessly interact with shoppers at multiple touch points, increase brand penetration across these platforms and, in so doing, ultimately inform all phases of purchasing thought processes in an integrated, non-intrusive and, hopefully, organically relevant and intimate way.

So it's no wonder why the app store runneth over -- brands want to be the scene stealer in this crucial mobile chapter of their consumer's storyline or, at the very least, have a supporting role in this digital act.

The brands that have gotten it right have introduced successful apps that are true extensions of their consumers' lives. Whether interactive or more informative in nature, these apps are authentically representative of their consumer. By aiding and solving for a need, providing a service, or offering a solution their apps are relevant and their brand becomes a part of that essential daily fabric -- by adding value they become inextricably woven into their consumers' decision making process before a need to buy even arises.

But getting it right can be a tricky song and dance.

Brands want enamored buyers. Yet, wooing us with an app without a solid understanding of what the app will do to enhance our lives is time wasted.

Becoming a natural part of the consumer's life and inviting the consumer to be a primary author of the brand's narrative is a compelling value proposition for both. Yet understanding the significance of emerging digital devices in brokering this symbiotic digital brand-consumer relationship was last year's homework.

Brands now need to evaluate their pipeline of mobile apps and conduct a granular review of user behavior and preferences to determine how their apps are influencing what and how their target consumer purchases:

What types of mobile applications are key consumers engaging with on a given day, and across how many verticals? How many of these app interfaces translate into cognitive, brand awareness versus more tactical, brand buying behaviors? Of those for products/services, which apps stand out and what makes them effective? What specific needs do they serve? How do consumers expect and want to interact with different brands on their mobile phones?

Answering the aforementioned questions is a critical mandate for brands as consumers become increasingly entrenched in app induced digital lifestyles, with perhaps the most important question of all not being, "Can we build an app for that?" but rather: "Should we?"