There seems to be a temptation among many fmcg brands to be ‘blinded by the shiny’ when it comes to using mobiles as a marketing channel. They see the potential of the technology and immediately demand an exciting app - often a game - to take full advantage of it.

This is great if you’re a brand that’s able to engage young, tech-savvy audiences at this level - such as a Coca-Cola or a Nike - but it’s not that appropriate or relevant if you produce sausages or condensed milk. We’ve seen apps and services for fmcg brands that employ AR or QR codes or image recognition with seemingly no strategy other than to look cool in the marketing community.

Frankly, a lot of companies need a reality check. Shoppers don’t want to engage creatively with every product in their trolley. They don’t have the time and someone buying chicken kievs is unlikely to have the same sort of brand commitment as someone who waits in line for days to get a new iPad.

It’s not a concrete rule. Some food and drink companies want that level of engagement (a cereal marketed at kids, for example) and so an app or game might well make sense. But for many, ‘brand warmth’ may be a better bet than rabid fandom.

So think about what you actually want to achieve with mobiles. First, smartphones may be popular but are not ubiquitous. If your target demographic is mums or older customers, will they own devices that can use your awesome app? You might want to think about how your website looks and works on mobile, too. It should be optimised for mobile search, which is a growth area.

Be sure to respond to what your shoppers want. For example, do your products appear in recipes that show up in in-store searches? Do you offer mobile vouchers or promotions? Brands can be creative without investing thousands in an app no one downloads.

The potential of mobile has led to some unrealistic expectations. Just because you’ve spent time and effort trying to engage shoppers doesn’t mean they’ll spend time and effort returning the favour. For a lot of brands, being useful will pay better dividends than being sexy.

Mark Freeman is a creative partner at mobile agency Movement