Posts Tagged ‘deals’

A Hyper-Local Black Friday Wrap

December 8th, 2011

Checking-in to Super Savings

One of the most hectic shopping days of the year has passed, and this year’s Black Friday marked an interesting development in the marketing efforts of major retailers. Although the typical Black Friday shopper battled the crowds with a purpose and a pre-determined route, location based mobile apps enabled retailers to access the discount-driven shoppers who just can’t resist a good deal. An increasing number of companies have turned to these services to offer customers exclusive deals via their mobile devices. Accessing customers through their mobile devices has become an attractive feature for retailers as it allows them to target the sales-crazy, on-the-go shoppers who just might trample down anyone who gets in their way of a sale.

Foursquare , which recently announced they had hit 14 million users has become an important app that many retailers have paired up with to offer discounts, which customers receive once they have ‘checked in’, or shared their location. Various stores are enticing customers into their retail store mayhem by offering special discounts only available through this app. These examples pictured from Foursquare’s blog are only a few examples of the retailers targeting the media-savvy shopper, with stores ranging from AT&T to UPS also offering check-in discounts. Foursquare is not alone in its location based advertising, as companies like SCVNGR, Facebook Places, and Yelp are also offering these types of deals to sales-hungry customers for checking in.

QR Codes – The Modern Catalogue

Aside from encouraging retail madness through discounts for mobile check-ins, retailers are also using QR codes to provide customers with an easier and faster shopping experience. With Black Friday being one of the biggest sales days of the year, QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in retail stores. While QR codes are not a new phenomenon to the advertising world, the upcoming holiday season has retailers embedding them into a variety of marketing displays to attract mobile users. Companies such as JC Penney and Macy’s are among the many retailers that have introduced QR codes into their stores this holiday season. Sears and Kmart have created ‘gift walls’ in their stores, placed in viewing sight of those waiting in the cash line, which are essentially walls filled with QR codes linking the customer to popular items for sale. With the increase in technological innovations, mobile phones are quickly becoming the best aid a shopper can have for finding the best deals.

The numbers are growing, but what’s next?

Recent stats from AdvertisingAge showed Foursquare checkins on Black Friday as a significant increase over last year.  And while Starbucks and Mcdonald’s topped the list, Wal-Mart with over 149,000 was the leading national retailer.  But it checkins and QR codes are just the start.  Expect to see these apps and more to further expand to include real-time product inventory, mobile wallets, and even virtual goods in the form of augmented reality.  eBay Mobile announced that shoppers in the U.S. purchased nearly two and a half times as many items via eBay Mobile this Black Friday when compared to 2010 and PayPal Mobile (another division of eBay) announced a six-fold (516%) increase in global mobile payment volume compared to 2010

Shoppers will increasingly choose the convenience of mobile to find the best deals from wherever they are while avoiding big crowds and long lines. The ability to simply pick up your phone or tablet and purchase what you want, when you want it, has become an attractive alternative to shoppers in record numbers this holiday season. The possibilities are endless.

Putting The Customer Back In The Deal

July 6th, 2011

TeamBuy, WagJag, BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, and Groupon are among the most common names within the newest marketing phenomenon known as team buying. No, this doesn’t mean that your recreational softball team is going to pitch in to buy team sweaters. Although somewhat similar, team buying refers to a group of people coming together to buy items at a discounted price. Hoarders around the world will preach that buying in bulk is always cheaper which is the fundamental concept of these companies. Except, the items (or services and experiences) being purchased are in singles quantities by complete strangers- ONLINE! Considering that everyone and their grandmothers are looking for the cheapest price on anything they buy and these consumers are also become overly confident with purchasing online, team buying sites seem like a win-win solution. Retailers are increasing their foot traffic and consumers are saving a buck. From a marketing view, this is a complete nightmare.

Bringing Back the Basics

All good marketing textbooks explain the idea of customer relationship management (CRM), where marketers try to build relationships with their customers to ensure loyalty, repeat visits and protection of future business. Team buying websites have completely neglected the idea of CRM and put their entire focus on creating transactional customers. Furthermore, team buying sites have enabled mom-and-pop stores to get their name out there, while increasing foot traffic. But happens when giants like McDonalds enter the fray? Are consumers going to buy the deal for the local burger joint or hold off for the Golden Arches?

Gap and GroupOn

As an example let’s look at Gap. They participated in a Groupon promotion during summer 2010 and generated over $11 M in sales in one day by giving $25 off of $50 of clothing. Those are amazing results for a single day (and losses considering they would need to fork over $11 M to cover that promotion). In the long run, consumers will come in and spend more than $50 giving Gap even greater profits and increase their foot traffic. Except, Gap alienated their regulars and gave random customers a deal and their best got nothing. And the customers that purchased the deal will most likely use their coupon and never return as they are just following the deal. Was this a good business move or bad? Only their sales will tell. Least we know it wasn’t as bad as their new logo launch.

Future of the Fad

Although, the current model of buying sites may not be as attractive as they seem there are platforms emerging that may be a better solution. LevelUp and SocialSelect are combining the check-in, the game and the reward all in one. The difference between them and the daily deal is that they encourage individuals to engage with their brands and provides them with an incentive to return. LevelUp is built on both mobile and web interface and can be used in real-time, which incorporates location! The concept is based on levels, once the player passes level 1 they automatically move on to level 2 and so on. For a restaurant, level 1 can be a breakfast deal, level 2 could be lunch and level 3 could be dinner. Furthermore, you can purchase the deal and use it immediately by showing the barcode.

SocialSelect provides their best customers during a visit with a deal card that they can use to log on to the site and be rewarded with a deal that they apply to their next visit. They can also share the incentive with selected friends. This way companies are able to use the deal as a private, select marketing tool rather than an arbitrary discount.

Another consideration is the announcement last week from location mainstay, Loopt.  The company launched U-Deals – the reverse Groupon.  Currently available only in San Francisco, the system empowers the consumer to make their own deal, at the places they pick.  You come up with the deal, you get your friends on board, and then submit it to Loopt.  They then try to get the merchant to accept the deal.

If it works both the consumer and merchant should benefit through better margins.

Team buying seems to be the latest fad in the marketing space. By adding location, this fad can become the future. SocialSelect and LevelUp have been pioneers in this area by adding the foundations for daily deals and CRM. Will this prevent Grouponers from frequenting their daily sites? Probably not. But it does give some hope to businesses that are not reeking in the benefits of team buying. This way they can build clientele and reward their best customers at the same time. Although, there are arguments for and against team buying, we can say for certain that a good solution is always location. But for now, we can only wonder if TLC will make a spinoff to Extreme Couponing.

Digication: The synergy between Digital Signage and Location

June 17th, 2011

Digital signs are polluting cities globally and the only thing consumers’ want is to see their faces and words hitting the big screen. Be it a childhood dream or an item off the bucket list, having yourself plastered in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus would have topped the list every time. But how can you make this happen? It is of common belief that those signs are saved for America’s Next Top Model, not ordinary folk like us.  Truth be told, America’s Next Top Model is you! Within the digital sign industry, it is becoming possible to broadcast yourself or items that are targeted toward you on the jazzy displays.

LocaModa  + Foursquare do Vegas

LocaModa wanted to bring visualizations to place based media. Their first effort was to team up with Foursquare at a specific location and whoever checks in will be displayed on the digital signage outside. The sign would also display photos of the mayor, check ins and comments about the location. Users could even upload photos of their experience within that location and potentially have it display on the big screen. In doing so, consumers can display what they’re doing, when they’re doing and how they’re doing it to their friends though Foursquare but to upwards of 100K strangers walking past the sign. Who would complain with those 15 seconds of fame?

AdCentricity does Consumer Sync

AdCentricity teamed up with Environics to develop a solution for DOOH media to target consumers based on their behaviours, psychographics and purchase intent. The Nielson Company develops the consumer profiles so that companies can target their consumers based on their preferences, media habits and lifestyles within their marketplaces. Consumer Sync will engage with customers through DOOH media in a more impactful and personal way than has been seen before. How does this impact location? Well, Consumer Sync allows companies to develop media based on the demographics within a given geographic region, which ultimately enables creative distribution and flighting.  AdCentricity is the first of its kind to utilize targeting analytics as a way of developing advertising campaigns. They have opened the doors to an avenue with great potential.

One of the best examples I’ve seen to date is the recent project by McDonald’s Sweden that put an interactive billboard in Stureplan, the main public square of Stockholm. Called “Pick n Play”, the concept was dead simple: For one week (May 7-14) consumers competed by completing a pong-like game in 30 seconds on the billboard. Winners received coupons sent immediately to their mobile device for free food in the nearest McDonald’s restaurant.  WATCH VIDEO HERE:  McDonald’s Pick n Play

The big news here is as the user you play right from their mobile web browser, with no app to download!

Digital signs aren’t just the flashy lights anymore. They are based on strategy, creativeness and location. Companies are able to make the messages on these screens personal with script written by passing by patrons or photos uploaded to social media sites. The LocaModa and Foursquare have taken checking in at locations from being something that you share with your friends to being broadcasted on the big screens for everyone to see. Now when a 4sq user becomes mayor they will feel a greater sense of elation as their picture will be in the posted beside Gap’s latest campaign. Furthermore, AdCentricity has removed the meaningless nature of visual displays and made them more personal. Any message on their screens is personalized and targeted to that demographic and most of the time it will apply to you. This only leaves one question: what’s next? Will digital displays pair with the geolocation software in phones and tablets to directly target those consumers as they walk by? Will campaigns use augmented reality so that you are the ad? Really at this point, anything is possible. Just make sure you hit the gym because rumor has it screens make you look 10 lbs heavier.

Fashion & Foursquare

May 10th, 2011

Moving from Sears catalogues being delivered in the mail to email blasts being sent directly to your handheld, the fashion industry has evolved into one of the fastest moving industries in the market. As soon as a trend becomes popular it is already obsolete in the eyes of any style maven. To ordinary folk keeping up to date on  “what’s hot” in the fashion world is a daunting task and can be extremely costly. To marketers, this is a budding segment that needs immediate attention and wit to overcome the already overbearing noise.

While fashion is moving fast, technology is moving faster. Major retailers, such as BestBuy and Macy’s, have teamed up with companies like Shopkick Inc. to deploy location-based Smartphone Apps. The Apps utilize cell phones location capabilities to target customers within a designated area around their retail store. The App will send them promotions; coupons or other marketing offers which will appeal to the customer when they are in the position to buy.  As BestBuy and Macy’s are tracking their customers, Gap Stylemixer is building wardrobes, Ralph Lauren is designing customized rugby shirts and Chanel is showcasing their fashion show all on the mobile platform. Shop ‘til you drop is the past. Shop ‘til your cell phone dies is the present.

Location-based apps are successfully communicating with consumers and are a “hot” trend within the marketing world. Ultimately, the surplus of Apps depreciates any given brand’s cool factor. Like every trend, they become overdone and fall into the “everyone is doing it” category similar to what was seen with bell-bottom jeans in the 70’s. Unsurprisingly enough as fashionistas are always one step ahead, icons such as Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and Diesel have taken location-based marketing to the next level, or as some could say, the next runway.

Marc Jacobs in NYC Fashion Week

Marc Jacobs has embraced social media and digital technology to develop marketing ideas that go against the traditional marketing employed by other fashion brands.

Prior to fashion week in NYC, Marc teamed up with FourSquare to develop a “Fashion Victim” badge that enthusiasts acquired after “checking-in” to Marc Jacob locations throughout the Big Apple and other states.  Randomly four individuals who unlocked the badge in New York were invited to the Marc Jacobs fashion show. In doing so, both Marc Jacobs and FourSquare became the subject of chatter for days leading up to the show.

Jimmy Choo’s CatchAChoo

Jimmy Choo launched the CatchAChoo event in London via Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare to connect the digital world to the real world by inviting shoe fanatics to participate in the game. All they had to do was follow the clues posted online by a representative and approach them and say “I’ve been following you.” The winner gets a free pair of trainers and bragging rights to the remaining cyber losers.

Be Stupid with Diesel

Originally, Diesel worked with Iced Media (digital marketing agency) to develop a successful online campaign called “Be Stupid” which encouraged individuals to upload photos via Twitter, Facebook and Flckr. Decidedly, Diesel teamed up with FourSquare to drive their online traffic into their retail locations by allowing customers to “check-in” and receive a prize. Additionally, customers will receive a sticker with the Be Stupid slogan on it that they are encouraged to bring home, photograph and email for a chance to win bigger, better and more stupid prizes.

These campaigns were initial forays into the capabilities of location-based marketing. Although FourSquare is America’s Next Top Model, similar platforms, such as SCVNGR, Gowalla, and Goldrun, are climbing the ranks and developing unique opportunities for brands to reach (and wardrobe) their consumers. But with every marketing fad, Louis Vitton comes up with a new bag. Keep your fingers busy on those sites and eventually you will “check- in” at the right time!

Facebook + Apple: Masters of the Location Universe?

November 4th, 2010

Yesterday, Facebook along with more than 20 retail partners, including Gap, H&M, Lululemon, McDonalds’s, Starbucks and the San Francisco 49ers, announced a Facebook Deals component to augment their Places location-based service.

The move could bring a slew of new local and small business advertisers to the social network.  With more than 500 million users already, Deals could be the driver that brings location-based services to the masses.  And it’s needed – a study, also released yesterday by Pew Research indicates that only 4% of online adults use a location service like Foursquare or Gowalla.

The Deals service lets merchants push deals to their existing customers and attract new ones, according to Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization.

When users launch Facebook Places, they will see a listing of nearby venues, some which will have special icons indicating deals. They can pull up the deal, and with two clicks, they can claim it. When they go to the store or restaurant later, they can show the staff their Facebook app to redeem the deal.

The most interesting part of this announcement is that Facebook isn’t taking a cut of revenue for these discounts, posing a challenge to smaller competitors that use deal revenue as part of their business model. On a business’ Places page, they can set up an offer. There are four kinds:

  • Individual deals, which reward a customer if they check-in once.
  • Loyalty deals, which reward customers for a certain number of purchases or check-ins.
  • Friend deals, which reward customers if they bring in extra friends.
  • Charity deals, which allow businesses to donate to charity for every check-in they attract.

The Deals announcement is not however without speculation towards the future.

When Facebook called this press conference, much of the speculation was that they were going to announce their own phone – as referenced by TechCrunch in September.   That didn’t happen.  Instead, it appears that Apple and Facebook are getting closer and closer.

Could Apple be looking to buy Facebook?

Imagine if Facebook users suddenly all had iTunes and FaceTime accounts, giving Apple unquestioned dominance in online music and video chat. Apple and Facebook aren’t currently competing in any realm, but both are competing with Google, and there’s no love lost between Apple and Google.

Additionally, there’s significant synergy. The Facebook app for iPhone has been estimated to be one of the most used apps on the iPhone, with over 100 million active monthly users. One source, David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, claims that more than half of all usage of the iPhone of apps, other than those provided by the phone itself like telephony and email, is coming from Facebook.”

Apple has some $51 Billion in the bank meaning that they could afford to buy the social networking giant when it goes public.

Steve Jobs on a recent earnings call said “We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along, that we are in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position…And so I think that we’d like to continue to keep our powder dry, because we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future. That’s the biggest reason.”

Perhaps the most important synergy is in the area of patents.  Facebook has been thinking about location for years and was recently granted a wide-reaching patent that could wipe newcomers off the social networking map.

Bnet, which broke the story, says the patent covers “a method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location” and the location is found using a “GPS Identifier”.

Similarly, Apple is hot on the patent bandwagon, in particular around NFC and location-based advertising.

Their recent patent application for “System and method for providing contextual advertisements according to dynamic pricing scheme” indicates.

Apple describes a mobile ad system that will work on your iPhone, iPod or iPad, and provide ads based on various direct or indirect marketing preferences through a “Local ad” app.  The owner of the network you are connected to at the time serves the ads.

A shopping mall owner, airport operator, or anyone else, providing Wi-Fi access, can serve ads from local merchants; wireless carrier can offer local ads, triggered by a location data from a base station or your GPS sensor, and search keywords you just entered in a search app, etc.

The combination of these two companies could indeed make them masters of the location-based universe.