This week Starbucks announced that mayors of locations on Foursquare between now and June 28 can get one dollar off the custom Frappacino of their choice. This morning I tried it out and received my discount. I’ve been a user of Foursquare for several months, but for me personally it was the first time I had experienced a benefit as a consumer. Starbucks is clearly just experimenting here, but I like the approach – there is little cost or downside to a promotion like this. Some quick thoughts based on a nice discussion with the employees of the store:
- Most of the employees didn’t know what Foursquare was, but were really excited about it.
- They had been eagerly waiting to find out who the mayor was – wondering when the person would show up, what they would say, wondering if the person would be a jerk and pound a fist demanding a discount, claiming “I’m the Mayor!” and wondering if they would know the person already.
- The employee running the cash register had to check the official “Need to Know” bulletin to know what promotion code to use when ringing me up. I wasn’t surprised since this is a new idea and approach, and didn’t involve a paper coupon I could turn in.
- We talked about several other ideas they could explore, like rewarding every 5th checking with something similar to benefit more than just the Mayor.
- I explained that my role is very social media focused, and since I had been on Foursquare for awhile it may be common at a lot of stores that early adopters (also in the biz) would be most likely to retain mayorships.
- As I left I heard some other employee ask, “Hey, was that the mayor? He’s here all the time, cool.”
Aside from the recognition, the discount was practical and got me to try a drink I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased (Iced Americano or Iced Latte are more the usual for me). I appreciated the conversation starter to build a better relationship with the folks who worked there, although we already somewhat knew each other. My primary suggestion to Starbucks would be to see them expand to have more folks benefit.
I could really see an application here for the retail space if handled and designed properly. Any company that has a multi-channel footprint could leverage Foursquare (or perhaps one of the other location services, like Gowalla, Brightkite or the coming Facebook changes) to build fun and relationships into their strategy. On the flip side, because these technologies are so new and not as widely adopted, there is an opportunity for more “buzz” just by being first to market. Or second, after Starbucks and some others (Gradon Tripp pointed out that Ben & Jerry’s offers 3 scoops for $3 for checking in, a 4th free scoop for the mayor, sparking a conversation with Sarah Wallace and others about the correlation between Foursquare and weight gain) .
Get your discount yet? What do you think about the approach? Is it a flash in a pan or a part of a bigger picture?