Written by Noemi Pollack on April 30, 2010.
Who would have thought? You are in a mall, walking by a Macy’s store and oops! You get an alert on your smart phone that Macy’s has a special discount for you if you walk in, right now. Or, you are driving approximately 10 blocks from Taco Bell, and there goes off that alert again – this time with an offer from Taco Bell that’s well worth a stop, rather than the one you had planned on – that coffee shop across the street. It gets better. If you walk into a store often enough, you will be able to click as you enter on the smart phone location and immediately get on a customer loyalty program, enabling you to add points for future purchases, much like frequent flyer programs with miles.
Of course, you have to be a location app user.
If this sounds futuristic, it’s not. It’s here. Apparently all this was made possible by Foursquare, the location-based social network that introduced a free analytics tool and dashboard last month, giving business owners access to a range of information and statistics about visitors to their establishments.
Innovative marketers have managed to figure out how to maximize this into win-win situations. Just consider — Pepsico and the likes, sell more products, stores get more traffic and the consumer gets special offers geared to his/her likes and tastes. And there’s another convenience soon to come. As companies start to turn Foursquare (or other custom location applications) into a virtual loyalty-card program that offers customers discounts or other rewards for shopping, consumers get to toss all those customer loyalty cards that stuff up wallets and use smart phones as a simple replacement for it all.
Savvy businesses like Starbucks, Tasti-D-Lite, Macy’s and Pepsi, are using information reaped from smart phones that can signal someone’s location, to get live information about when and where people are shopping, track store traffic and note when their most loyal customers visit and market to them accordingly.
Of course, you have to want to be tracked and it’s good to remember that being a member of the likes of Foursquare is a proactive choice. But while it was fun and games just to check out who is sitting in the cafe across the street to find friends to meet up with spontaneously, so much information about you, presents a whole new scenario.
It is not only friends who are looking for you now, rather marketers, who are following your moves…
This may cause a momentary shudder (as in Big Brother Is Watching YOU, right out of George Orwell’s book, 1984), but my guess is that in 2010, it is the accepted reality — more so, if you get such advantages as loyalty points, discounts and free sodas.
It may just be that if Big Brother is, in fact watching, it no longer matters…