Cola wars go mobile

23 November 2010

NEW YORK: PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have both introduced new mobile marketing programmes, each using location-based services to engage consumers.

For its part, PepsiCo has partnered with Foursquare to offer members rewards premised on habits beyond "checking in" at a set time or place.

If participants earn a "Gym Rat" badge, achieved by regularly exercising at sports centres, they could receive a bottle of SoBe Lifewater.

Should users work out early in the mornings, they are likely to be provided with items more suitable for breakfast, such as Quaker Oats and Tropicana.

Shoppers can claim these products at 300 branches of Vons in southern California, and the Safeway-owned network will integrate this initiative with its existing loyalty scheme.

"When we think about creating loyalty, it isn't about only getting a coupon every fifth time you visit," Tristan Walker, Foursquare's head of business development, told Fast Company.

"Loyalty is about the local merchant remembering your name and order."

Among the key advantages available to manufacturers and retailers is gaining an insight into popular activities away from the in-store arena.

"The platform's most important layer is allowing opportunities for retailers and brands to learn more about their consumers - to learn a little bit about the things I like to do, even outside that venue," Walker said.

Possible applications that may aid PepsiCo incorporate understanding the occasions encouraging individuals to pick up a Gatorade, AMP energy drink or Mountain Dew.

"Our goal is to learn how location will ultimately drive human behavior," Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's director of digital and social media, said. "We know the opportunity is massive, so this is about digital R&D."

Bough further added that innovating in the mobile field would be crucial going forward.

"What's working? How do you turn consumer insight into more engagement? How will these behavior triggers ultimately tie into a bigger strategy? That's what will separate the winners from the losers," he said.

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola has allied with SCVNGR, which specialises in delivering mobile "challenges", running a campaign primarily targeting teenagers.

It will "seed" ten shopping centres operated by Simon Malls on 26 November, Black Friday, asking customers to undertake challenges, like visiting certain stores or taking photos.

American Express gift cards and branded Coke merchandise are just some prizes up for grabs as part of this effort.

Online and print ads are to be supplemented with signs in malls, carrying taglines including "This mall has secrets. Unlock them."

SCVNGR, which boasts iPhone and Android apps, now has 500,000 users and hopes to hit 1m by the close of 2010.

Seth Priebatsch, SCVNGR's founder, suggested it was differentiated from a growing number of rivals as the aim is "to build the game layer on top of the world."

"You use Foursquare, Gowalla and Twitter," he said. You do not use SCVNGR - you play it."

Coke Zero has also sponsored a "location-based" game tied to the film Tron: Legacy, following the actual movements of players via wireless handsets.

"At the moment, if you want to create amazing marketing, then you've got to be in the mobile space," Jude Brooks, Coca-Cola's UK and Ireland interactive manager, said at a recent conference.

"I think mobile marketing is going to transform the way that we connect and communicate with our consumers. Its opportunity is immense. It will run across all different channels of marketing.

"The power it gives us in terms of evaluating ROI, and engaging in that one-to-one dialogue with consumers, is phenomenal."

Data sourced from Fast Company, Mobile Marketing Magazine, Mashable; additional content by Warc staff