Apple basically invented the phrase "There's an app for that" and promptly trademarked it.
Whilst a catchy advertising line however, what it neatly demonstrates is how Apple popularised the concept of small, situationally specific applications that do a single job very well. Whether it's a mapping app, a camera app or a Scrabble app, people now have on average 41 different apps installed on their smartphones.
This trend though may not just be limited to smartphones and tablets. There seems to be an emerging trend of "smart objects" or essentially real world apps. Situationally specific devices which perform just one task and are starting to be used by brands to connect customers directly from the point of need to the point of supply.
Start-ups like Green Goose have been creating ways of connecting the physical world to the online world through their smart sensors and this is part of trend known as the internet of things, something i wrote about 12 months ago.
The world moves on however and so it was interesting to see that Evian in France has just launched their own real world app in the form of a fridge magnet that will place an order for a water delivery when pressed, simply using a wifi connection to do it. Developed by French company Joshfire, the device was developed from scratch to provide this unique proposition - and potentially a new loyalty solution.
A previous example was launched by a pizza company in Dubai who had a fridge magnet that would automatically order your faviourite pizza when pressed and I suspect at the time was seen more as a novelty. However, a major global brand like Evian changes the playing field a little.
There are 5 main reasons why this more than just a sales promotion novelty and has the potential instead to be a powerful loyalty mechanic.
1. Direct Channel - It allows Evian to build a direct connection between the customer and the brand, disintermediating the retailer from the solution who would normally "own" this relationship.
2. Reduces Price Sensitivity - For some CPG categories, as much as 88% of all sales can be while the product is on promotion so anything that takes price out of the equation will be welcomed. This solution provides a simple way for a consumer to just make a purchase without comparison of competitor/promotional pricing.
3. Reduces Paradox of Choice - It's no surprise that consumers find it hard to stay loyal. In the water category alone, a top UK supermarket has 55 still water options and 25 sparkling. Having just one decision and one button to press makes that choice simple (and you don't need to carry it home!). This "one-click" decision works for Amazon online and has served them well; it's almost as frictionless as you can get for a purchase process.
4. Point of Need - As marketers we're always trying to get to the consumer at the point of purchase. This is why mobile and location are such hot topics - if I know when you're out shopping and near my store I can remind you I exist and send you an offer. How about being there though when the customer first gets a need - when they run out of something, before they even head to the shops?
This is what the Evian solution provides.
When I've poured my last glass (or better still opened my last bottle), I just press a button to get another supply. This potentially provides a direct dialogue with customers at a key point of need and a customer who has just consumed something is going to be much more open to a re-purchase (assuming they were satisfied).
5. Reward and Recognition - Although not part of the Evian solution at the moment, this is potentially the most powerful opportunity that this kind of solution opens up. Being able to simply say to customers "this ones on us" is a really strong loyalty mechanic and would be very simple to implement. Better still, there is no need for customers to enter on pack codes, collect labels or send in receipts - you have all the data you need, immediately.
Loyalty is all about reducing friction in a customer relationship and I think this Evian smart object is a fantastic example of how to do this well. It won't work for every brand, but whether its a button for nappies in the nursery, toiler paper in the bathroom or beer in the games room, the opportunity for this solution is potentially massive.