Coca-Cola turns mobile phone into loyalty card

Coca-Cola breaks multifaceted mobile loyalty progrThe on-pack call-to-action from Coca-Cola and Rogers

The Coca-Cola Co. is ramping up its mobile loyalty initiatives in North America by partnering with a Canadian wireless carrier to drive participation in its “Twist TXT Save” program.

In conjunction with Toronto-based Rogers Wireless, the beverage giant issued mobile calls-to-action via email, its Web site, the carrier’s site and on-package. The partners are running an under-the-cap SMS promotion along with the “Summer’s Sweetest Moments” MMS sweepstakes.

“Coke has been doing this for years—you can go online to enter the codes or do so from your cell phone by texting them in,” said Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Boston. “You have to sign up online for the program—name, address and carrier.

“You opt-in to have promotions—mostly their sweepstakes—pushed out to you occasionally,” she said. “What is interesting to me here is Rogers’ involvement.”

The mobile medium is a key component of Coca-Cola’s loyalty and customer relationship management initiatives (see story).

Twist TXT Save, AirBonus
Coca-Cola has successfully turned its classic Coke bottle into a mini-retail environment to run direct-to-consumer affinity programs.

Coke prints a unique PIN under the bottle cap which acts as a proof of purchase.

Rogers subscribers who text the under-the-cap PIN number to the short code 42653 get $0.75 off their mobile phone bill or $1,000 iCoke points.

Coca-Cola single-serve bottles in stores across Canada carry the following mobile call-to-action:

“This bottle gets you $0.75 off your Rogers Wireless bill. Get PIN under cap & text to 42653 to redeem or get 1,000 iCoke Points @ iCoke.ca. Max 10 discounts/customer/week.”

Here is a screengrab of the call-to-action on the Web site:

Coca Cola has taken this in-store strategy to the next level in Britain (see story).

In Britain and Canada, Coke Points can be instantly redeemed on O2 and Rogers Wireless networks for an instant credit on wireless minutes.

It is only a matter of time before United States carriers take advantage of similar opportunities.

“Airbonus is an exciting opportunity for brands as it offers a new way of driving a sale without discounting the product,” said Gary Schwartz, CEO of mobile aggregator Impact Mobile, Toronto.

“Airbonus is an exciting opportunity for brands as it offers a new way of driving a sale without discounting the product,” he said. “Airbonus eliminates the need for clearing houses and offers a mobile CRM channel.”

Coke’s program works as an affinity channel in any store allowing the consumer to text message the PINs to collect Coke Points.

Promotional PINs are alphanumeric codes found on specially marked Coca-Cola products and on special promotion materials that can be redeemed on both via mobile and online.

These PIN codes give registered MyCokeRewards Members in the U.S. and iCoke in Canada of the chance to collect iCoke Points and instantly win prizes. Everyone who enters a PIN code receives the number of iCoke Points.

Consumers work to accumulate points to redeem against tickets and other valued swag.

“What I like about this new campaign is that it leverages immediacy,” Ms. Ask said. “People are more likely to redeem these points if they don’t need to carry them around in their pocket until they get in front of a computer.

“And, Coke gets to know when and where people are buying and consuming drinks,” she said. “It offers all the benefits of sweepstakes—lots of excitement and people buy more cokes, but it doesn’t deliver qualified leads.”

In addition to the service providing a revenue stream for the carriers that have increasingly become disenfranchised from the mobile marketing and advertising value chain, the service, called AirBonus, could revitalize a dying rebate business, as there is no need for clearing houses and the shopper does all the work.

Most importantly, there is an instant rebate: Cash in hand for the mobile consumer.

This provides a compelling value exchange for consumers: Redeem loyalty points on a handset and the brand will top up minutes on the same redemption device.

Coke is using the phone as retailers use a plastic loyalty card.

The value exchange can be moved seamless on and off the card, or in this case, the mobile phone.

Ideally, the mobile program would eliminate the need for a rebate or coupon clearing houses, cutting out time delays or intermediaries between the brand and the shopper.

Summer’s Sweetest Moments via MMS
Coca-Cola is also running a mobile sweepstakes in partnership with Rogers called Summer’s Sweetest Moments, which has the tagline “Celebrating Canada’s Freshest Summer Pics!”

The call-to-action appears on the iCoke.ca Web portal:

“Want to win a BlackBerry Pearl 9100 smartphone plus a $100 Rogers Gift Card? Enter the Summer’s Sweetest Moments Contest! Click here!”

Consumers are asked to text in pictures from their Rogers mobile phone to the short code 42653 to win a BlackBerry Pearl 9100 smartphone plus a $100 Rogers gift card.

“The photo contest is fun—it’s social,” Ms. Ask said. “Obviously, it is a lot more fun if my friends or people I know are a participating and posting—most will post on Facebook.

“The ability to post more than one place at once would be cool, both to their promotion and your own accounts on Facebook [and other social networks],” she said. “Participation here will be driven more by size of prizes than engagement with social media aspects.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Marketer

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