Last month, The Beans Group released its list of the Top 100 Youth Brands, a report based on a survey of 1,000 students in the UK looking at which brands are most popular among 18-24 year-olds.
Given that the youth market is often one brands try to target on mobile – younger consumers have traditionally led adoption of mobile technology; nearly half of 18-24s have made fashion purchases on a smartphone; and as The Beans Group points out in its report, they're a socially influential group – it seemed a perfect fit. So we investigated what each of the 100 brands is doing on mobile: whether they have a mobile-optimised site, an app, or multiple apps, and what platforms they're available on.
Site for sore eyes
Some brands have managed to optimise certain parts of their web offering for mobile – notably Coca Cola, which has a mobile site for its MyCoke rewards scheme, as well as its US site, but not its main UK homepage. Similarly, Channel 4 has optimised the 4OD section of its site for mobile, while the rest remains non-optimised.
Another three brands (the Post Office, PayPal, and HMV) did actually have mobile sites, but don't automatically redirect mobile devices from the desktop homepage. We didn't count these, as mobile users shouldn't have to manually alter the URL to access a mobile version of the site.
While 10 brands have prioritised mobile-optimising their site over getting an app built, 29 brands have at least one app, but no mobile site (including The Co-operative, Metro, Kellogg's, River Island, Lidl, and WHSmith). For now, it appears the app is still the mobile marketing tool of choice for big brands.
Bite of the Apple
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the brands' app portfolio included an iPhone offering. Of the 76 brands with apps, only three didn't include an iPhone app – Doritos and MAC Cosmetics, which only have Android apps in the UK, and Lush Cosmetics, whose only app offering is an iPad version of its customer magazine.
60 brands have an Android app, equivalent to 79 per cent of those with any app offering. Android is catching up with iOS, but it remains a second thought for many – Oxfam, Bacardi, Converse, and Smirnoff are among those with an iOS app but without any presence in the Google Play store.
43 per cent of brands with apps included iPad among them – either apps specifically made for the tablet, or universal iOS apps which included a tablet-friendly design. Given that all iOS apps are technically compatible with the iPad, if hardly optimised, this lower number makes sense. The most common use of a standalone iPad app for these brands (including ASOS, Lush, and Cineworld) was for presenting a digital version of their customer magazine.
Where brands had no apps, it wasn't unusual for there to be an unofficial option available – including Converse, which has a wide range of fan-made Android apps available; Costa, which has an unofficial – showing there's a high demand for them. Similarly, many of the iPhone apps without tablet-friendly equivalents had their reviews filled with users asking for an iPad version.
It's also worth noting that we didn't count brands with apps local to other countries – such as Haribo and Jagermeister, both of which have a wider mobile offering in their country of origin, Germany, or Dorito's surprisingly robust selection of cross-platform Arabic apps.
Zero to hero
Of the 100 brands, 15 scored zero on our test, meaning they had no mobile offering at all. Largely, these were food and non-alcoholic drink brands (including Bird's Eye, Uncle Ben's, Nescafe, and Haribo). That's forgivable, as the brands are largely non-aspirational, and aren't directly selling a product, but there were also some big surprises. Two of these brands are retailers (Primark, Paperchase) while another two have a presence on the high street (Costa Coffee, Millie's Cookie).
More encouragingly, however, 19 brands scored top marks. These brands not only had a mobile site, but apps on iPhone, iPad and Android. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of online-led businesses here, whether services (including Wikipedia, Skype, Google, and Facebook) or online retailers (Amazon, ASOS).
It was also good to see a range of high street retailers (including Waterstones, Topshop, Ikea, and Boots) among the ranks of fully mobilised companies.
That's all, folks – for now, at least. We'll be posting the second half of our study, which takes a deeper dive into the most highly-ranked brands, later today.