EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is rewarding shoppers for helping publicize its new stores to friends.
For the past several months, the retailer has incentivized visitors to its newest stores to share their whereabouts by “checking in” via location-based mobile applications, spokesman Brendan Wonnacott told SN.
The latest offer was tied to a grand opening in Pleasanton, Calif., earlier this month.
“For our most social neighbors, don't forget to check-in on Facebook, Foursquare or Yelp to get a little fresh&easy freebie starting today through our grand opening weekend. Who's hungry?,” the retailer posted on its Facebook page.
To receive a coupon for a free item, shoppers present their mobile device to an employee to confirm check-in. Snacks like Fresh & Easy Baked Cheese Curls have been among the giveaways. But it's not just incentives that are driving check ins. The chain has observed an uptick in activity even in stores where no reward is available.
“There is checking in without an enticement at all locations,” said Wonnacott. “It's something that's been growing significantly.”
Given the popularity of apps that let users share their local business patronage, Fresh & Easy is considering extending rewards to more established locations.
“Currently it's just for new stores, but it's something that we may branch out a bit with,” Wonnacott said.
The tool could even act as a digital loyalty program, driving repeat trips to Fresh & Easy. That's the idea behind Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets' Foursquare strategy, which doesn't reward shoppers until their third check in. Incentives range from free cookies to soup.
Vons Grocery Co., Arcadia, Calif., does things a bit differently. The retailer allows shoppers to check in at a specific Vons location on Foursquare with a swipe of their loyalty card at checkout. Perks include free Pepsi, SoBe, Izze and Tropicana products.
Retailers are ramping up social media efforts at a time when location-based applications are fostering even more competiton among neighboring businesses.
The latest versions of Foursquare's mobile apps allow users to search deals for businesses local to their current location. In the past, users weren't presented with reward details until after they checked in. But now competing retailers might sweeten their deals in order to coax shoppers to choose their store.
Also new is an “explore' feature that lets users search for local businesses by venue type. Recommendations are based on where the user and their friends have checked in previously so the more you check in, the more customized the experience.
“Proximity-based marketing is intriguing since it makes it easy to find a location in an unfamiliar area, and you can entice consumers to come in when they're near your store,” said Jim Wisner, president of the Wisner Marketing Group.