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More than 100 million people have smartphones. Approximately half of them make purchases on these devices. Thus, mobile marketing is a hot topic for companies that must find a way to exploit the potential of this channel.

In this huge market, consumers generally are younger and wealthier than others who own older-model mobile phones. For example, more than 50 percent of mobile retail consumers earn at least $75,000 annually.

These statistics also describe the consumers most likely to buy from fashion-oriented companies, whether they sell fashion magazine content, commerce, or brand information. Thus Style.com offers a mobile application for people to access the same content available on the Style magazine website, including blogs, reviews, couture shows, and video feeds.

Other apps provide a more in-depth look at a particular brand. Louis Vuitton’s NOWNESS app combines magazine content with brand promotion. For London’s famous Harrod’s department store, a mobile app helps consumers navigate the extensive geography of the actual store.

With the Stylish Girl app, customers instead can search a variety of stores, to compare prices and available assortments, while also storing their favorite items from each store in a virtual closet. Recently Stylish Girl partnered with the e-retailer Gretchy.com to hold the first international flash sale.

Pose is a photo-sharing app for style and fashion; Snapette focuses on shoes and bags and aims to help customers find the merchandise they want according to their immediate location.

Even with all of these different types of apps though, few actually improve the multichannel customer’s shopping experience, such as by helping customers regardless of whether they use their smartphones or visit the stores. Such multichannel appeals thus may be the best way for mobile applications to get shoppers, and their vast purchasing power, on board.

Discussion Questions:

What kinds of applications are actually beneficial for shoppers?

Source: Marguerite Darlington, “The History and Future of Mobile’s Role in Fashion,” FashionablyMarketing.me, November 22, 2011.