When was the last time you saw a bartender grab a book off the bar shelf to check a recipe after you requested an obscure drink or classic elixir? If the bartender went straight to his or her mobile phone, chances are it was to view one of the many mobile sites, or applications (apps), dedicated to drink recipes. Mobile phone apps are far faster to access and are more extensive than any book on the market, and for that matter, the information is usually free!
The fastest growing category in the mobile handset market is the smartphone. Nine of the top ten most-used mobile devices on the market today are smartphones, according to a 2009 Nielson study. Loosely defined as any mobile device with advanced capabilities such as email, internet, and a full keyboard, this category has captured nearly 30% of the market share and is growing exponentially. Primarily Apple, Blackberry, and LG have fueled this growth, but new competitors like Google are on the horizon.
Mobile phone websites, applications, and advertising have all benefited from the proliferation of the smartphone. Mobile-friendly websites are growing in popularity because they are optimized or designed specifically for viewing on a mobile device with seamless integration. Delta Airlines and American Express both have created true examples of mobile websites.
Mobile applications are primarily associated with the Apple iPhone, which allows users to search among thousands of applications on the proprietary iTunes website. Almost always referred to as “apps,” these programs can be similar to mobile websites but do not necessarily require use of an internet connection. Apps are usually exclusive to a device or manufacturer, but the most popular apps are built for multiple devices. GetJar is the second largest mobile application store, behind iTunes, and offers apps for almost all devices.
Alcohol beverage manufacturers are starting to take notice and develop their own mobile applications, with offerings ranging from product information and videos, to live music locations and recipes. Most notably, Bacardi, Absolut, Stoli, Grand Marnier, and Jim Beam are pushing the [electronic] envelope. While most beverage apps are free to download on iTunes, the manufacturers are interested in product recipes and branding opportunities. Each app varies in its on-premise to off-premise focus and whether it is more of a practical or entertaining experience. Whatever the concept, the common thread is they are all iTune apps. Apple has done an incredible job of creating this app store that complements the iPhone and iPod Touch. A closer look into the functionality of these apps shows the diversity and ingenuity of the alcohol beverage manufacturers.
Creating an app to post on iTunes or GetJar is an intriguing proposition for alcohol beverage manufacturers, since bartenders and servers typically have the best smartphones on the market. The cost to develop this type of app and have it professionally coded depends mostly on the functionality and design, but it can range anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000. There are several things to consider before embarking on this process. Here are six to bear in mind:
1) CONCEPT – It doesn’t need to be ground-breaking, but being clever and filling a niche are important.
2) DESIGN – Use clean lines, bright colors, smooth movement, and appropriate sound.
3) USER EXPERIENCE – Always be mindful of creating a smart user interface.
4) EXTRAS – Make the best use of iPhone features such as GPS, accelerometer, local storage, camera, and more.
5) STICKY – This refers to the app’s ability to keep repeat visitors, through entertainment value or practicality.
6) PROMOTION – Be prepared to promote through print, promos, and social media.
Word to the wise: The best apps do a few things very well instead of many things at just an average level. Minimize the number of features in the initial launch and let the users be your research and development guides. Adding features in future releases is a great way to keep your app “sticky.”
If you would like more information on mobile websites or building an app, please contact Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alcohol Beverage manufacturer iPhone Apps
Spiritshelf (William Grant & Sons)
Characterized by amusing short videos of brand ambassadors along with a handful of quality recipes, this app is very well put together. It features most of William Grant’s premium brands including Hendrick’s, Stoli, Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Milagro, and Sailor Jerry.