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Retailer App-titude: Understanding Consumers & Apps

June 25, 2014 By Jessica Boothe, CEA
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Like many, I have a love affair with my smartphone. I take it everywhere, I feel lost without it, I buy it accessories and I protect it from harm. But my smartphone wouldn’t be as dear to me without applications, or “apps.” Without apps I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with friends, identify music, check the news, know the weather forecast, track my running or shop.

According to CEA’s 16th Annual Ownership and Market Potential Study, 64 percent of U.S. households now own at least one smartphone. The plethora of apps is expanding beyond smartphones into other categories as well; computing via tablet computers and video via smart TVs. Nine in 10 (90 percent) tablet owners use apps on their device and half (54 percent) of smart TV users have apps on their TV, according to CEA’s recent study on apps, The Intersection Between App and Hardware.

What can retailers do to become part of the app landscape? Specifically, what can consumer electronics (CE) retailers do to ensure they’re an app beloved by consumers? 


What Consumers Like & Dislike about Apps

Six in 10 (60 percent) online consumers enjoy using apps. Half (55 percent) of online consumers who have apps installed indicate that apps make life easier by providing utilities as advanced as monitoring your house or as simple as checking the weather. While generally apps have a tendency to make life easier, they can have the opposite effect as well, and annoy consumers.  Top frustrations reported by online consumers include faulty apps or apps with glitches. This includes freezing, abruptly closing and slow speeds. Outside technical issues, top frustrations include in-app advertisements. While malfunctions are not always controllable, retailers should be attentive when using in-app advertisements, opting for more targeted ads through location-based technologies – a part of the future opportunity for retail apps.


The Future of the App

If retailers would like consumers to enjoy using their app, the first step is exposure. Half (58 percent) of consumers learn about apps from family, friends and co-workers. Beyond personal connections, 60 percent of online consumers indicate the sheer volume of apps is generally overwhelming. Consequently, app discovery averages below 25 percent for many channels such as social networking sites, advertisements and search engines with consumers indicting no particular source for learning about apps. Therefore, in the fight to be noticed in the sea of apps, advertising and grassroots campaigns to encourage word of mouth are the best approaches for retailers.


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