Facebook has recently launched a service called Deals, which allows users to get special offers at retail destinations when they ‘check-in’ to that location with their Facebook account.
“When you’re looking at the Nearby Places list on your mobile phone, certain places will display a yellow ticket next to their name. Clicking through will show you the details of the offer, and then checking in will display a voucher that you can show to the person on the till to validate it. Types of deal include charity giveaways, freebie giveaways, loyalty card-like counters and deals that require you to check in multiple people at the same time.”
Deals is like a combination of FourSquare, with its social currency of ‘check-ins’ and discount voucher sites like Groupon, and represent the new face of customer loyalty. Beyond simple loyalty cards and rubber stamps, the emphasis is on broadcasting your customer loyalty to your ‘friends’, and is most apt for restaurants and coffee shops.
But perhaps more than genuine customer loyalty, Deals could simply encourage a kind of consumer nomadism, a rootless shifting customer base that constantly moves to where the best offer is. It smacks of presenteeism rather than engagement, a flash mob of punters showing up expecting a discount rather than genuine loyalty between a retailer and its customers.
As some retailers who have used Groupon have discovered, suddenly having a herd of new, temporary customers is a Faustian bargain that doesn’t necessarily translate into long-term, full-paying customers, and whose main winner is Groupon itself. And there’s always the chance that genuinely loyal customers may get shoved to the side by the stampede of coupon waving bargain hunters.
Discounting is always a risky proposition – especially with emerging ecosystems such as Groupon, where a misjudgement can lead to big losses for a business – and can rapidly become a race to the bottom. At IncentiveDirect, we believe incentives that reward sales generation are a low risk way of driving sales and growing business in a manageable, sustainable way.