As retailers and brands respond to new demands for seamless customer experiences, the mobile app is taking center stage. And not only for online browsing and purchasing, but for in-store shoppers as well—the app function that is growing the fastest year over year. New research from mobile app experience firm Airship sheds light on consumer behaviors and preferences for mobile apps from retailers.
The firm’s soon-to-be-released report, Enhancing Shopper Value in 2023, in partnership with Sapio Research, includes input from 11,000 global consumer respondents—nearly 8 in 10 (78 percent) of whom are using retailers’ mobile apps either more often or about the same as last year. This preference for retail apps extends across age groups and household income levels. Generationally, 81 percent of millennials and 79 percent of Gen X report using this app usage frequency, followed by 72 percent of both Gen Z and boomers. High household incomes lead in regular use of retail apps at 82 percent, followed by 79 percent of medium and 75 percent of low income levels.
When asked about 10 different activities one might use their smartphone to accomplish while shopping in-store, using the retailer’s app grew the most year over year. Globally, 74 percent of respondents said they are likely to use the brand’s app when shopping at its physical storefronts.
For most countries and generations, the likelihood of using a retailer’s app while shopping in-store is only a few percentage points behind visiting the retailer’s website despite first having to download apps from the App Store or Google Play.
Mobile apps have an inherent advantage to reach people wherever they are at the exact moment it matters most
This is because notifications are served up on smartphone lock screens. When consumers were asked what motivates them to opt in to receive brand communications on their smartphone, discounts, loyalty rewards and offers personalized to browsing behaviors, past purchases and current location saw the biggest gains over the prior year.
The data suggests that inflation and the current economy is driving more deal-motivated behaviors—and demonstrates an opportunity for retailers to expand customer understanding as shoppers are more motivated to share personal information in exchange for valuable offers and convenient experiences that better meet their needs.
“Today’s consumers are increasingly turning to mobile apps from their favorite retailers to score deals, gain special access and improve their overall customer experience, particularly while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores,” said Thomas Butta, chief strategy and marketing officer at Airship, in a news release. “As marketing budgets are pinched and consumers face economic pressures, retailers need greater agility to create and optimize valuable app experiences that grow customer understanding and reward them individually, making life easier and better for everyone involved.”
The survey was completed in February 2023 among 11,000 consumers, age 18 and older in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil.