Today’s mission: to see how a few of my favorite big brands are using iPhone apps. As you might expect, I found a ton of great branded apps, both free and paid. My three top picks are below and share a common theme–they make life a little easier for their devoted followers.
Target Gift Finder
I spend a third of my life in Target so it was a natural place to start. The free Target Gift Finder app allows you to search for gifts by gender, age, price, and personality. Once the jackpot style interface does its search, it pops up a selection of gifts that fit your criteria. If you see one you like, you can connect directly to Target.com to buy immediately or locate a store right in the app to go by later and check it out in person. I did a search for my mom (“Doting Grandma” personality), $25-$50 range and up came 25 choices. My mom is a little more hip than most grandmas but I did find a nice bedside breakfast tray I think she’ll like. In addition to the online purchasing option previously mentioned, I also had the option to save it to my favorites for later. Nice.
Whole Foods Market Recipes
Naturally, I spend another large chunk of my time shopping for food for my family. Like many people, I love the brand experience of Whole Foods–wandering the aisles, checking out the cheese, sipping free wine samples, and generally pretending like I’m at a happy hour (it’s kind of sad what counts as entertainment when you have two small kids right?). The free Whole Foods Market Recipes app enables you to search for a recipe by course, category, and special diet, and combine it with a keyword if you want. I searched for Main Dish, Family Friendly with no dietary restrictions and had at least 25 yummy recipes pop up. It’s a tough choice between the Grilled Veggie Pizza with Goat Cheese and the Chicken Pot Pie so I’ll let my husband decide since he’s the chef of the family. Each recipe includes nutrition info, an ingredients list and recipe plus the ability to save it to a favorites folder or email it to yourself (or your spouse!) to pick up ingredients on the way home. So convenient.
NikeWomen Training Club
After you select your “mini” or avatar for the free NikeWomen Training Club app, lace up your running shoes and you are ready to rock. The app offers a programmed workout schedule for you to follow with your friends. In the spirit of friendly competition, there is a group leader board with points earned for completed workouts which you can even share to your Facebook profile. Today’s workout contained 10 different exercise modules with different moves in each. A short video per module shows you how to do each move (think pushups, lunges, high knees) and then you are off to the races. (I admit I didn’t actually do it but did watch the videos which I think should count for some points, don’t you?) I especially love this app because tomorrow is a programmed rest day. Yes!
These three apps are just a few of the many interesting and useful ones I found out there (Weber Grills paid app almost made the list). When done well, companies can use these apps to effectively extend their brand experience to the third screen where they drive loyalty and purchasing behavior again and again. While iPhone is certainly the 800-lb gorilla du jour, there are certainly excellent Web widgets, Blackberry and Android apps, and other innovative uses of embeddable content out there–let us know if you have a favorite!
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Julie Rutherford is the Vice President of Marketing and General Manager for Email at Beliefnet.com, the leading online site for inspiration and faith. Prior to joining Beliefnet, Julie served as Marketing Director for WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), where she specialized in Web 2.0 marketing including social media, mobile marketing, widgets, feeds and SEO.
Before the Post, she served as Director of Electronic Publishing for the International Herald Tribune in Paris with responsibility for editorial, marketing, sales and tech operations for IHT.com. Previous experience includes marketing and management positions with several Internet startups during the 1990s.
Julie and her husband Brad live in Brooklyn with their two sons.