Consumers appear to show more interest in applications developed by companies to offer informational content - advice, good practice, practical tips, etc - than in those which take a gaming or entertainment approach.

At a time when brands are more and more inclined to develop entertaining modules to attract customers, it seems that the consumers themselves don’t always welcome this approach. According to a study carried out by a team from the University of Indiana, people prefer brand mobile applications that give them information rather than trying to entertain them. Some 225 people aged 18 to 74 took part in the study. They were shown eight apps – from Gillette, BMW, Gap and Lancôme, among others – in random order. Participants could interact with the apps for as long as they wished. At the same time they were asked questions, and psycho-physiological data such as heart rate and arousal levels were measured.

Greater interest in informational applications

"We found that mobile apps which are informational in nature or utilitarian were more likely to engage users than those focused on entertainment or gaming", revealed Robert Potter, co-author of the study. Purchasing intentions were also higher for the brands and products associated with these apps. The interactions with the most appeal were actually quite varied: origin info and manufacturing methods for products, useful tips about cooking and entertaining guests from major food brand Kraft, and one allowing shoppers to see promotional offers available in the neighbourhood or directly on their mobile. When a brand gives people this type of information, “it’s something they internalise and personalise more than the external-based focus of the game-based app,” explained Robert Potter. For example, dressing up as a 3D avatar with Gap or configuring a 3-D replica of a car with BMW did not really prove a hit with the test group. 

Applications that are more complex to develop but more effective

So these are things that brands need to think about, especially as the informational apps are much harder to produce and take longer. "Brands shouldn’t choose the easy route and simply adapt an interactive game by putting their logo on it. They need to find a way for their app to add value for consumers in their everyday lives," continues Robert Potter. In addition the researchers found that involvement and interaction with the applications led people in the study to see new benefits of products not really targeted at them. For example, men took a great interest in the Lancôme perfumes and women in the range of Gillette razors. So marketing this kind of app could also open up ways for companies to reach new audiences.