Beenz Plants a Fresh Crop Offline

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Loyalty currency provider beenz is expected to announce today that it is repositioning itself as a multi-channel supplier of awards and incentives. It is accomplishing this by bringing its online beenz currency into the traditional world via a patented rewards technology.


This technology allows beenz to place a code on product packaging, receipts, newspaper ads and direct mail pieces. If a consumer visits a clients' Web site and enters a code, a la the ongoing Pepsi Stuff rewards program, they then earn an allotted amount of beenz.


On the flipside, beenz can now also be used to drive traffic from a client's Web site to their offline stores. A client company can offer a coupon or offer redeemable in stores for beenz.


Beenz claims it acquired the United States patent (# 6039244) from a German company Credigy. The technology is patent-pending overseas.


Being that there are already a number of major programs in place using similar technologies, such as Kellogg's Eet and Ern and the Pepsi Stuff program, this announcement has at least one competitor wondering aloud about the possibility of potential lawsuits.


"Isn't Kellogg's doing that already? Are they going to sue Kellogg's for infringing upon it," questioned Steve Markowitz, CEO of MyPoints.com, San Francisco. Worth noting is the fact that MyPoints.com currently has a patent-pending on similar technology.


As far as dragging Kellogg's and Pepsi to court, Charles Cohen, CEO of beenz, New York said, "We understand other companies are interested in developing or have already developed multi-channel rewards and incentive programs. We would be happy to meet and explore possible business agreements utilizing the patented beenz technology so that companies can enhance their multi-channel promotions."


Through agreements with Catalina Marketing and MasterCard, MyPoints.com and other competitors have been pushing furiously to establish themselves offline. This new innovation gives beenz a leg up in that race, according to Cohen. "This move doesn't have anything to do with our competitors. They are not capable of offering the kind of integrated loyalty network that we can. We are the only company capable of offering turnkey integrated on- and offline loyalty and rewards programs."


Markowitz sees beenz efforts to move offline as a step in the right direction. "The real power of these programs is unleashed when consumers can earn points both online and offline. To see other companies make moves in that space is encouraging. It adds credibility to all the efforts we have been doing in the offline space," he said.


One beenz is equal to one-half of a cent. It can be spent at more than 300 online merchants such as MP3.com and 1800Certificates.com as well as offline through the beenz Rewards Card. The card is a debit vehicle that is accepted anywhere that accepts MasterCard.


Beenz can be earned at the "beenzBack Shopping" portal where up to 40 beenz are granted for every dollar spent at more than 100 merchants sites including KBKids.com, MySimon.com and Dell.com. Consumers can also play games such as Asteroids to earn additional beenz.


The currency can is typically collected by doing typical Web activities such as surfing client sites, filling out surveys and responding to offers. There are more than one billion beenz in circulation.


Overall, Cohen sees the online loyalty arena as entering extremely competitive stage. "It's shaping up into a three or four horse race," he said. "The winner will be the guy with the most varied and sustainable model with the highest salience with the consumer."
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