Commentary

Apps As Customer Acquisition Tools

Ed Kaczmarek

At the appalooza that is OMMA Mobile 2010, one of themes that emerged early in the day is the role of mobile apps in expanding a company's customer base. The idea is to think of an app not just for branding or reaching existing users but reeling in new ones.

In a morning keynote, Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation, consumer experiences at Kraft Foods, pointed out that 90% of the users for version 2.0 of its popular ifood assistant app are new to the brand. So, it's a customer acquisition tool," he said. What's more, 20% of the recipe app's users are men, a far higher proportion than the company's typical consumer demographic offline. (But what guy hasn't bought Kraft Mac & Cheese at some point in his life?)

Anyway, Kaczmarek explained the ifood app in particular is attracting young, millennial guys who are more open to cooking than men of prior generations and appreciate the social media aspect of the program. That translates into cooking more for dates for friends, "which is different than five years ago," he said.

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In a separate category, automotive, AKQA found similar sales results through the Real Racing app for the iPhone it helped Volkswagen to create last year to promote the new GTI. Dan Rosen, who heads the agency's mobile group and gave the morning's other keynote talk, said 50% of the car's buyers following the mobile-only launch campaign were new Volkswagen customers.

The model also sold out in the U.S., which was unusual for VW. "What mbile did was increase the reach of brand to new people," said Rosen. He added that the mobile campaign also cost only a fraction of what a full, traditional rollout would have.

Ted HongIn yet another consumer category, online movie ticket seller Fandango pointed to higher mobile sales, if not necessarily new customers. Ted Hong, chief marketing officer at Fandango, said mobile ticket sales via mobile have increased up to 20% on a given weekend since it launched its iPhone app, which it's continued to update with features like mapping.

"The fact that we've been able to untether people from the computer has been incredibly helpful," he said. Among the untethered is Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who Hong revealed had used the Fandango app 60 times in the last year to get movie tickets. How did he find that out" "We peeked," he confessed, half-jokingly asking everyone in the room to please not blog, Twitter or post to Facebook about its Jobs-tracking. So much for that.

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