ISU professor’s study finds businesses can benefit from apps

Alex Cory

While the applications on a mobile phone can undoubtedly offer services and benefits to their users, businesses can also reap the rewards of apps from the other side of the screen.

A study published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing by Su Jung Kim, assistant professor of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, found a direct link between app use and purchase activity. The study concluded that brands with apps users kept coming back to saw a sizable increase in profits.

“What we found was exactly as we predicted — downloading and adopting the mobile app itself has a positive influence of subsequent purchase behavior,” Kim said.

The study also revealed that if people stop using an app after downloading it, their purchase behavior decreases. Making an app interactive might be the key to get people coming back. Kim said the more a person uses the features of an app, the likelier they are to purchase more.

Creating the perfect app for a company requires careful thinking about what the brand image is trying to convey.

“Try to provide interactive features that provide the benefits that your target consumers are expecting,” Kim said.

Apps can attract returning users by offering special rewards on a specific day of the week, or for opening the app a certain number of times.

“Make them have this habit of logging in every day for a certain amount of time,” Kim said.

She added that since a mobile phone is a habitual device, making an app part of a user’s habit can be very effective.

The study also found that making a good first impression counts for mobile apps.

“Before you put your app on the market, test it. If the experience is awful [or] if there is any technical glitch and your consumer doesn’t like it, they are just going to delete it and not give it a second chance,” Kim said.

Mark Junod, senior in animal science, said he couldn’t think of any brand apps he liked to use, but said he could see the appeal of interactivity, especially when it came to apps that incentivize checking in every day.

“It depends on what it would be, but I’d maybe consider using it,” Junod said.

Hailey Nailor, senior in biochemistry, said she makes frequent use of brand apps and often uses her phone to shop online. 

“I have Target, Amazon, Caribou and Starbucks,” Nailor said.