Mobile apps and data collection go hand in glove. Mobile devices are powerful sensor platforms that are never more than 2 meters away from their owners 24 hours a day. These sensor platforms and the data collected from them are golden to mobile commerce vendors and digital marketers, and for that reason every business wants a mobile app. The challenge, however, is not every product or brand justifies an app.
Businesses want apps because they offer the potential for collecting valuable data, personalizing the user's experience and developing a direct relationship with consumers. The problem, however, is nobody wants to download an app for a can of vegetable soup. I could be motivated to download an app containing a ranked list of the best soup-serving restaurants in my city, but not for a can of soup. There is a difference between these two types of apps that we must understand. A product app assumes my interest lies in a can of soup, while the other understands my interest lies in the experience.
Many companies recognize the value of mobile apps and data, but they lack a motivated customer base willing to download an app. For them, “Consumer Interests" apps (CI) may be the answer. CI apps are usually not product specific, but are designed to appeal to interests.
Soup drinkers, for example, may associate soup-drinking with: warmth, fireplaces, homemade bread, sweaters, snow, family, friends, laughter and grandmother? If these are the interests and experiences associated with soup, then the question is what kind of mobile app could a soup manufacturer develop that would appeal to this market. Perhaps it is a mobile app that provides soup recipes, or one that rates the best homemade bread to serve with different soups, or the best country inns to enjoy a bowl of soup. The key is to address the “interests” and offer unique and valued content. The “interest” is what motivates the download, and the continued use of the app. The "interest" is what makes the user OK with sharing their personal data. The "interest" reveals much about a consumer.
Often several consumer products companies, all targeting the same interest profile, partner to develop a CI app together. The shared costs, and shared data model is a good option for many niche players.
Understanding the consumer’s interests and delivering apps that address them, is a great tactic for companies that lack brand loyalty strong enough to motivate customers to download and use a product specific app.