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Are Check-In Apps Losing Their Shine?

October 6th, 2010

I think the key to the survival of these tools is to switch the focus from the social game to the rewards. Shopkick has started with this approach; consumers who use its application focus on earning points by visiting participating retailers rather than just geo-locating their friends.

Think about it, people don’t carry around their supermarket rewards card because they love the supermarket brand. They do it because they want to save money on their grocery bill. (Note: I just laughed out loud at the idea of a tool that shares your supermarket success: “Todd just saved $2 on Huggies!”)

And the thing is, there are tons of opportunities for brands to take check-in to the next level:

  • Flashing the mayor’s picture on the digital menu board with a “Mayor’s Special” food item.
  • Letting the mayor cut the line.
  • Giving discounts to those who get their friends to check in.
  • Having a scavenger hunt across multiple brand outlets.
  • Offering second-place offers, goading the most recently ousted person to come back and try to regain the throne.
  • Offering the mayor a special “black” card (stored value) that is only provided to mayors.
  • And, of course, offering free food or drink.

Another big challenge is the ability for the major QSR brands to respond quickly enough (no pun intended). With many of these chains operating thousands of stores, designing, building and implementing a massive program like this may take months, if not years. I personally don’t believe these tools have much life left without gaining some major retailer support.

And if the industry as a whole doesn’t start to offer these types of perks consistently, I’m worried that the check-in apps will become the next acid-washed jeans. Once check-in goes out of style, it won’t matter how good the perks are. Although the Shopkick model of points is a good start at consistency, it just doesn’t seem to have the flair or pizzazz I think is needed to take things to the next level.

What do you think? I’m interested in your feedback. Do you think these check-in applications are a fad that will fade into obscurity like Roseanne Barr?

Term Of The Week: “TADD”—Twitter Attention Deficit Disorder. “I follow this celebrity on Twitter, but he has a major case of TADD, talking about his new movie one minute and his dog the next.”

Leave a comment, or E-mail me at Todd.Michaud@FranchiseIT.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @todd_michaud.


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