Should Your CPG Brand Have a Mobile App?

Posted by Kevin Keating on Aug 21, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Ten years ago, mobile apps were largely novelties, fun things with which people who bought iPhones could impress their friends. All that has changed, of course. 

Late in 2016, web access from mobile devices exceeded that from desktop and laptop computers. In fact, there are many people whose only access to the web is through their mobile phone plan, so the strategies you use to reach people with ready access to Wi-Fi will not necessarily be ideal for them.

CPG mobile apps are all around, and can be used by every type of consumer brand. 

There is an app for almost everything, including one allowing a user to pretend to drink beer. People expect apps to make their daily lives easier or more entertaining, and brands have stepped up to the plate to accommodate them. Does every CPG brand need a mobile app? The answer is, “It depends.” It depends on whether you are interested in customer-facing or employee-facing apps, and it depends on whether it would truly benefit your brand. Here is what you should know about CPG mobile apps.

Customer-Facing CPG Mobile Apps

Customer-facing CPG mobile apps are the ones that are designed to engage consumers. Some of these CPG mobile apps may be temporary in nature and tied to a particular brand promotion, such as a promotional game, or Johnson & Johnson’s 21-Day Challenge app to encourage people to use mouthwash. Others are designed for longer term use, like apps that help consumers download and redeem coupons or that help them shop or place orders directly from their mobile devices.

It is easy to see how these can be excellent brand-building tools. However, developing and distributing a great app does not come cheap. It is particularly important for smaller brands to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before investing in app development to be confident it will pay off in the long run. 

Employee-Facing Apps

Not all apps developed by a brand have to be directed at the consumer, however. Apps that empower workers are also increasingly popular because they increase efficiency and productivity. 

Brands may choose to have employees use an existing app for something like document sharing, or they may have a custom mobile app made to accommodate employee needs that are specific to the business. Again, a cost-benefit analysis up front will help businesses determine whether this is a wise investment.

There is no reason to make an app just for the sake of making an app.

Is Responsive Web Design Enough?

CPG mobile apps definitely represent a genuine consumer trend rather than a fad, but that does not mean that every brand needs one. With apps designed to bolster a brand, it is absolutely imperative that the app operate as intended, be free of bugs, and not cause problems with mobile operating systems. Ensuring this costs money. 

For smaller brands, particularly those whose apps would be primarily designed to feed information to consumers, responsive web design, which automatically shows up correctly regardless of device, may be perfectly sufficient, and can be budgeted into the general web design and maintenance budget. Moreover, launching a responsive web design is faster than creating a native mobile app. Not everyone has to jump on the CPG mobile app bandwagon to succeed. 

There is no question that apps have revolutionized everything from how we watch movies to how we track chronic health issues, and the likelihood of app development slowing down is low. That does not automatically mean that every brand has to develop a CPG mobile app. It is important to determine what you want the app to accomplish, how you plan to ensure it is widely distributed and installed, and whether it will ultimately produce a return on investment. 

For some brands, sticking with high-quality responsive web design may be the best solution, at least for the time being. Explore all your options, and you will increase the chances of engaging your customers as much as possible, without breaking the bank on unnecessary custom CPG mobile app development. 

As a branding agency, Hangar12 is constantly looking for new ways to influence brands in various audiences everywhere. We believe in sharing this knowledge with our audience, and subscribing to our blog is a great way to stay informed: 

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Topics brand, consumer marketing