To reach consumers where they are — literally — marketers are adding location-based technologies to their loyalty and couponing programs. Soft-serve dessert chain Tasti D-Lite recently updated its loyalty card program so customers can tell their social networking contacts when they’ve earned reward points from a store.
Members of the location-based social network Foursquare can also earn rewards points when they check in to a location.
“We saw there was a trend towards consumer demand for and interest in real-time interaction with brands and companies,” said Bill Zinke, CMO at Tasti D-Lite. “We also wanted to make sure that we are staying current with the technology that is taking customer engagement and interaction to a new level, doing it in real time and in a creative way.”
Pepsi announced that it will launch a mobile loyalty application for the iPhone to connect consumers with fast-food restaurants that sell its products. When a consumer visits a participating location, he or she will be able to use the app to earn loyalty credits. Customers will then be able to exchange the points for music downloads from various artists.
The soft-drink maker also recently partnered with Foursquare to run retailer-specific marketing programs.
David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and innovation at 360i, a digital agency, said mobile coupons helped location- based efforts gain popularity during tough economic times.
“The technology keeps improving for couponing. It helped that a number of these trends took off during the recession and recovery,” he said. “Couponing in all forms has gone through the roof in the last few years, and mobile is making this much more efficient, removing the barriers of printing or remembering to bring something.”
Berkowitz says location-based marketing will not truly be mainstream for a few more years. He adds, however, that many marketers will also use text messaging in geotargeted efforts as well.
“The apps get a ton of attention, but most mobile users also engage in text messaging,” he said. “A lot of the experience in joining a marketer’s list is to get a coupon notification from the text code itself.”