Opinion

A consumer’s view on Revlon’s bump app

In this guest post, Joanne Cleary explains why the Revlon bump app was a wasted opportunity.

This week I won a lipstick. Not just any lipstick, but a Revlon Colourburst Lip Butter. Might not be the most earth-shattering news, but as a young female consumer, I was tickled pink at the thought of a cosmetics freebie arriving in the mail. The lip butter came via Revlon’s lip butter bump app, developed by GPY&R Sydney’s new digital agency VML.

Rob Garratt, MD of Revlon Australasia, said: “This particular product, with Emma Stone as the Revlon brand ambassador, appeals to a younger demographic. This bump app is in line with the tone of communication as well as the target of woman this product speaks to. It’s interactive and engaging, digital, and an innovative way of sampling.”

I was intrigued, and easily won over by the concept, downloading the app as soon as I’d read the article. “Consumer-me” was rapt to get a freebie, with very little effort. Download app, find a friend, bump phones and enter details, and voila! $21.95 in value your way.

But ‘marketing me’ was disappointed that Revlon had missed an opportunity to really capitalise on what was a great idea to engage with its demographic. The problem was that beyond winning a sample, the app became redundant. The app might have looked pretty, but it was lacking in any broader brand substance, and beyond displaying a nifty range of candy looking shades, really didn’t do anything.

Two days later the allocation (of 2000 lipsticks) had been exhausted, two days later I had deleted it. That’s a pretty short life cycle for a traditionally expensive execution.

We are left with an app for an app’s sake – while it might not harm Revlon’s brand, it has not added any value in the way it connects with consumers like me.

As communications professionals we might harp on about how social extensions need to be a connection to the core brand, but all too often the execution doesn’t talk to the consumer in a way that is congruent with overall marketing strategy. In this case, Revlon’s first foray into a phone application in Australia was wasted because of this missing link – a pretty, shiny marketing ploy won’t win the hearts of consumers in the long run if there is no substance behind it.

Downloading a branded app is a unique consumer behavior – when phones are a modern prized possession, downloading an app is like inviting it into your home. It’s an extension of consumer psyche and identification- so brands need to treat is as a privilege, and deliver content that is worthy of a little square widget.

The “what’s in it for me” proposition is all too relevant, and with consumers blinded by brands trying to win their allegiance in the social world, a hook has never been more important. Revlon had this hook – a free lipstick certainly hooked me. But that’s not enough to deem it a winning brand activity. The fact is, that as a representative of its core demographic for the product, I didn’t learn anything about their brand beyond looking at a pretty colour wheel, and that’s an opportunity lost.

I compare this to the recently launched Hungry Jack’s app, which is a great example of an app with longevity and resonance to the company’s core customers. In addition to winning spot prizes off their menu, it features the obligatory store locator and detailed nutritional info for those who dare to look. Win, don’t win, there’s still a reason to give it a prized spot on your favourite device.

Buzzwords might look pretty on paper. But brands shouldn’t be rushed into developing something that won’t add long term value. Don’t do something just because it has the cool factor – you’ll have your customers reaching for the delete button and that little bit more skeptical when you are actually delivering something which speaks to them.

Joanne Cleary, 24 years old, is working on a Master’s Degree

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