We present an integrative review of existing marketing research on mobile apps, clarifying and expanding what is known around how apps shape customer experiences and value across iterative customer journeys, leading to the attainment of competitive advantage, via apps (in instances of apps attached to an existing brand) and for apps (when the app is the brand). To synthetize relevant knowledge, we integrate different conceptual bases into a unified framework, which simplifies the results of an in-depth bibliographic analysis of 471 studies. The synthesis advances marketing research by combining customer experience, customer journey, value creation and co-creation, digital customer orientation, market orientation, and competitive advantage. This integration of knowledge also furthers scientific marketing research on apps, facilitating future developments on the topic and promoting expertise exchange between academia and industry.
In comparison to Lemon and Verhoef’s (2016) original framework, the use of the word ‘adoption’ is based on the logic that most apps are initially available to consumers at no cost. As such, there is often no ‘purchase’ per se; rather, the focal event that starts the customer journey is the series of customer experiences that lead to adopting the technology. The focus on adoption also combines the strategic firm/brand perspective and the consumer perspective (see Becker and Jaakkola 2020).