I can pull out my phone today and have instant access to dozens of “deals” (aka coupons, promotions, offers) within a mile of where I’m standing. This is a big leap forward for retailers who historically had to battle the clutter of my physical mailbox or email inbox to deliver out-of-context promotions – now they have the opportunity to know that I’m “in the neighborhood” and can deliver real-time marketing messages.
Visa wants me to open up their iPhone app to find merchant deals close to where I’m standing. Social experience foursquare wants me to “check in” through my phone and discover experiences and deals tied to my current location. Groupon just bought mobile experience company Whrrl with an eye to do much the same. Every day this list gets longer and retailers have some strategic decisions to make about this new channel.
Should You Do It? The quick answer is “yes” – this is a rapidly emerging new touch point for consumers and all retailers should be “testing” at a minimum. No one fully understands the dynamics of this new offer delivery and you don’t want your competition to figure it out before you do.
Do It Smart Create your offers against a focused purpose that is in line with a real-time decision to come into your store. A grocery chain should be thinking about the “buy it today” purchases they are losing to convenience stores or QSRs and deliver offers that solve tonight’s meal plan or cost-position urgent replenishment items like milk, bread or soda. Large retailers either need to create offers so substantial that they can change someone’s day plan (e.g., 50% off men’s shirts) or suggest a quick visit (10% off all accessories). Restaurants should create offers that drive multiple visits or fill tables during non-peak hours. Simply repurposing your BOGO or 10 cents-off-green-beans offer from another channel will miss the opportunity.
Do It Yourself A core lesson that can be extracted here is that the mobile phone is a critical shopping tool and behavior influencer for consumers. No matter what channel you currently deliver offers through – print, email, outdoor – your marketing strategy should include the objective of “pushing that offer to the phone”. The mobile phone is an infinitely more personal touch point than e-mail, direct mail or print, and pushing these messages to the phone can tap that impact.
The Future There is exciting stuff happening today, and here are three things to look for in the future
- Yield Management: restaurants, hotels, entertainment options will be able to adjust their offers in real time to fill empty seats/tables/beds based on supply and demand
- Counter offers: online merchants will offer matching and better deals to encourage you to take your business online, e.g., Amazon will offer you free shipping and 20% off best sellers if you are standing within 200 feet of a Barnes & Noble.
- Offer Subscription: consumers will have the opportunity to “subscribe” to the geo-offers of brands they prefer in order to quiet the growing cacophony of unfiltered offers – this will create real time choices by retailers to determine “what is this specific customer worth to me at this exact moment”.
This all just scratches the surface of the opportunity in Location Based Promotion. Have questions on what its doing in your industry or just looking for some more location-based coupon insight? Feel free to reach out to me.
- Dave Vockell, 5th Finger, dave.vockell(at)5thfinger.com