23rd July 2015

Winning in Mobile

For people my age and younger, used to surfing the net and being connected with the wider world through our mobiles from a very early age, it’s hard to imagine a time when brands didn’t have to have a strategy for engaging with consumers in the digital space. These days, no brand, big or small, can be without an online presence.

However, now brands are facing a new challenge. Consumers are being bombarded by a dizzying amount of information on their TVs, laptops and particularly their mobiles, all vying for their shrinking attention. How can brands make themselves heard above the cacophony, especially in mobile?

Well one way brands can stand out on mobile is through branded apps. In 2014, mobile users spent more than 86 per cent of their time on their phones using the little icons on their screens, as opposed to the mobile web, so it makes sense for brands to engage with customers through an app of their own.

Tech companies have been using mobile for a while to create new avenues to connect with customers and further build loyalty. Just look at Apple and its Apple Pay mobile payment system discussed in my colleague Julaine’s recent blog. But they aren’t the only ones making waves in app technology. There are plenty of high-street and offline brands making use of the medium to reach out to consumers.


Coffee chain, Starbucks, has had an app of its own for a number of years now, which offers consumers an easier, contactless way to pay for their mocha latte and earn loyalty points at the same time. Not only does this boost engagement with customers, even when they aren’t in or near one of its cafés, it drives consumer loyalty by encouraging them to return to Starbucks for their coffee again and again to spend their points and earn more.

And, as the stats show, Starbucks’ investment has really paid off – despite only launching in the US in December 2014, the coffee giant is already processing more than seven million mobile payments a week, 16 per cent of its total sales volume for that market. And its momentum is showing no sign of abating.


Supermarket, Asda, is another big brand taking advantage of the mobile realm to further its relationship with consumers. Its app allows you to browse the retailer’s latest offers and buy your food on the go, without having to set foot in-store. It even saves your old grocery lists, enabling you to do your weekly shop with just a few sweeps of your mobile touchscreen. This is a great way for Asda to strengthen consumer loyalty by making it even more convenient for them to use its services, helping the brand to stand out from competing grocers in an increasingly crowded online retail space.


Even if they haven’t got the budget to build their own tech themselves, brands are still able to jump on the mobile bandwagon through third-party apps, like Ibotta. Already a hit in the US, this offers the old-school coupon promotion strategy on your mobile, allowing smaller brands to connect with consumers without having to invest in expensive technology. What makes Ibotta uniquely powerful is the fact that consumers have to take a poll for the brand or like its social media page to activate a coupon, driving discovery and engagement that can be very difficult for smaller or newly-established businesses to achieve in mobile.

The world of mobile is evolving so quickly that many established brands often feel like they have to re-think everything they know to keep themselves at the front of consumers’ minds. But there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when entering the mobile arena. Brands just need to do what they’ve always done, which is consider who their customers are and what value they get from their product, then find a way to harness the power of apps to increase that value. As the likes of Starbucks, Asda and Ibotta show, mobile technology offers a great way to revive traditional marketing strategies, like loyalty schemes and couponing, to enable offline brands not just to survive but thrive in the new digital age.

By Michael Wood, senior B2B copywriter