The Geoconsumer Game?

July 21, 2010

With news that Foursquare has just surpassed 100 million check-ins, it’s clear that geolocation marketing isn’t going away anytime fast. While Foursquare is certainly king of this share, other notable brands include Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla, and Whrrl. In the past six or so months, more and more companies are taking notice of Foursquare and the like, and utilizing these technologies (and participants) as a new way of marketing directly to people through their phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, etc. . .
I remember last winter checking in to a bar in downtown Chicago on Foursquare, and no sooner had I checked in then a pop-up ad for a competing bar came on my phone’s screen, offering a free happy-hour appetizer.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I hadn’t sought out this information (as one can via Twitter or Facebook), but rather, it sought me out. Let me say it again. It sought me out! It found me and not only did it track me down, but it told me about a special at another location, and I’ll admit it, I picked up my bag and went to the other bar to claim my free appetizer!
And to that point, if you’re able to come across a Starbucks that doesn’t have a Foursquare mayor, you’ve stumbled upon the very, very rare exception. Since Starbucks awards its Foursquare mayors with a free cup of Joe, they have consumers vying daily to take the coveted throne of mayorship. It’s brilliant. It creates organic online content and discussion as well as brand ambassadors and enthusiasts.
While Foursquare is the dominant player in this arena for now, new options are popping up daily, and the old players (Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.) and changing their model to adapt. Yelp has created similar check-in options and Facebook developed geolocation applications as well.
It’s fascinating to see where these technologies will lead, and in turn, how these are going to continue to shape and mold the way marketers and brands reach out and interact with consumers and fanatics.
While Foursquare is centered around location-based check-ins (and, in turn, marketing partnerships) it’s only a matter of time before it adapts (or another brand swoops in and steals this share) and expands to products as well. Once that happens and people don’t only check in at locations but “announce” what items they’ve bought, it turns this geolocation game into a new one altogether. Let’s call it the “geoconsumer” game, shall we?