Mobile Apps

Do Consumers Who Engage With a Brand on Their Mobile Phone Buy More?


Our researchers analyzed how customers’ engagement with a branded app affected their purchase behavior, thanks to the data supplied by the Air Miles Reward Program. Air Miles shared a database of customer purchase behavior before and after the Air Miles app was launched and a record of the app user’s interactions with the app.


More than two-thirds of American adults have a smartphone, and the number of available apps has increased exponentially. As brands rush to engage with consumers on mobile and create special branded apps, we wanted to know if mobile engagement correlates with purchase behavior.

Spiegel Insight Proof Action Items for Marketers

Customers who use an app spend more and more frequently.

App adopters had 16.2 percent greater purchase frequency and 20.1 percent greater mile accumulation over non-adopters.

  • Develop an app as a relevant engagement tool to serve your customers needs.
  • User experience is critical. In planning an app, ask your team:
    • How will this app help the user?
    • Will it help them find our stores?
    • Find our products?
    • Use our products?
    • Interact with us?
    • Learn information that helps them make decisions?
    • Save them money?

Customers who engage more deeply with an app, spend more.

For the Air Miles app, we looked at several levels of engagement of in terms of who logged in to the app and if they adopted the “check-in” feature at sponsor locations. We correlated these with two measures of spending – purchase frequency and point accumulation (i.e. dollars spent). The app users who logged in multiple times and used check-in increased purchase frequency by 8.0 percent and point accumulation by 14.8 percent.

When developing an app plan for varying levels of customer engagement. We found that customers who engaged deeply in an app by participating in a brand’s “Check-in Challenge” contest spent more.

Customers who disengage from an app spend less than before downloading it.

A customer who stops using the app for one month has 0.7 percent lower revenue (point accumulation) in the next period.

  • More apps find failure than success. The hidden danger is that a bad app can silently damage your brand. If consumers disengage from your app that means they can disengage with your brand and buy less than they did before.
  • Adopt early then improve. In market “beta” testing an app is critical.

Do Mobile Apps Increase Customer Engagement and Purchases?

The use of mobile apps generally results in increased engagement and purchase behavior. But there are potential risks. Executive Director Tom Collinger highlights the insights from the Spiegel mobile apps study.

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