Foursquare, a desktop and mobile app that consumers typically use to check in to bars and restaurants to let their friends know where they are, has recently announced that local NYC businesses can now offer coupons and other offers to the app’s users. Foursquare has been a great way for retailers and restaurant owners to find out who their most loyal customers are based on the people that “checked in” most often. If an individual “checked in” enough times, they were often deemed “mayor” of the location by Foursquare, and in some cases might receive a free drink or a % off a bill from the store or restaurant establishment.
Until recently, Foursquare has only allowed large national companies, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s to advertise to consumers on the site/mobile app. In an effort to increase monetization, Foursquare is now testing out this opportunity with small businesses in NYC. Not only will these companies be allowed to reach consumers with coupons and offers when they check in to the restaurant or store itself (which they were already allowed to do), but local companies will also be able to serve up offers to customers who are nearby through location-based targeting and previous check-ins to neighboring establishments.
Foursquare is saying that the purpose of this test is to tap into the world of local small business mobile marketing because of the revenue potential of approximately $1.2 Billion, but what about the voice of Foursquare’s consumers? On the one hand, allowing small businesses in major cities like New York to advertise and push out coupons and other offers will likely bring in new customers, but from a user perspective, the app will now be even more inundated with ads, which might ruin the experience.
My questions for the class are:
- Would you be more willing to try out a new restaurant or visit a retail store owned by a local small business if you saw a coupon or special offer on Foursquare?
- Do you view offers from small businesses (in addition to existing offers from the larger national companies) as a form of enhancing a user’s experience or weakening it?