When retailers think about mobile consumer engagement, they might picture designing the coolest, most innovative mobile marketing applications out there. Maybe that includes bright graphics, an easily navigable menu, games or a slew of other features that have proven popular in brand apps.
And while these tools are definitely crowd pleasers and will likely influence more downloads and mobile purchases, some retailers are adopting a new strategy. What if consumer engagement could be stretched to include forming relationships not just with the brand, but with fellow shoppers? Done right, this could do wonders to influence the loyalty a consumer feels with the company that has enabled such connections, and the company could be seen as a thought leader after taking advantage of this innovative tactic.
However, retailers have to realize that they still have to toe the fine line between allowing relationships to flourish and still tying these efforts into the brand, so its role isn't overlooked. Because a number of companies have started offering consumer forums and other interactive features on their mobile apps, others considering this move have something to look to as an example.
Oreo leads the way
Though numerous apps allow somewhat of a margin of peer interaction, be it through question and answer features or shopper reviews, there haven't been many examples of clear-cut communication until Oreo stepped on the scene. Because the brand made it its mission last year to have a presence on all continents, in 2013, the cookie giant is looking to the sky for expansion and using an app to reach that goal.
The Oreo Skies application allows Nokia Windows smartphone owners to point their phones at the sky and view constellations in real time. They can then type out messages, attach them to star clusters and save them. Other users can then open the app, find the corresponding constellation, "twist" open the Oreo that appears and read the communication.
The business ties in the world-famous cookie by featuring its likeness where messages are stored, as well as crafting brand communications that can be discovered as well.
"As a global company with a history of innovation, we aim to delight users through a form of augmented reality unlike anything they've seen before," noted Nokia vice president of global partnerships and application development Bryan Biniak. "Oreo is able to engage its consumers around the world in an innovative way, using the power of mobile."
Trend cropping up in various places
This tactic has proven lucrative for a number of businesses, and some industry experts think this type of quasi-consumer engagement is set to be more popular for retailers as time goes on. Moreover, this could be good for companies – it gets away from the traditional strategy of holding a conversation over platforms like apps or social media and lets shoppers trade positive experiences.
According to Inc. Magazine, though mobile apps might be expanded to allow for more consumer-to-consumer interactions, for best results regarding engagement, retailers still have to ensure they're available to speak to their patrons as well as customer service inquiries. This will likely result in more loyalty and higher returns.