The rules of engagement: how to motivate consumers to engage with branded mobile apps

Combining qualitative and quantitative insights, this research presents and validates a framework, which illustrates how to motivate consumers to engage with branded mobile applications, or apps. The framework shows that consumer involvement with branded apps underpins two sets of consumer perceptions of the benefits that the app offers, which reflect the different motives for engaging with the app, as consumers experience them. These perceptions include the utilitarian motives of security, usefulness and ease of use; and the hedonic motives of interpersonal utility, attachment (with the device) and entertainment. This range of motives leads to two key outcomes, i.e. the willingness to pay for the app (including in-app purchases) and the willingness to recommend the app. As a result, this research contributes to marketing research and theory by clarifying specific details of the psychological process through which it is possible to motivate consumer engagement with branded apps - i.e. by means of binding involvement, perceptions of how apps’ benefits meet individual needs (and resulting experiences for consumers) and a couple of key outcomes crucial to the success of apps. The findings also yield managerial relevance. Above all, the outcomes of this research suggest that, by involving and motivating consumers through the improvement of the benefits that a branded app offers, it is possible to increase the app’s revenues and to encourage word-of-mouth, creating value for app providers and consumers.