NEWYORK (AdAge.com) -- Would you check in to a box of Tampax like you'd check in to a bar on Foursquare? How about a jar of Miracle Whip? P&G, Kraft and a Silicon Valley startup are betting you will, well, at least for charity.
CauseWorld is a mash-up of location-based game apps such as Foursquare, GoWalla or Loopt with cause marketing, and has added checking into actual products in retail stores as the newest way for consumers to use mobile-check-in services to earn money for charity.
Check in for karma
With the free iPhone app, users check in at retail stores to earn points -- or "karmas" -- that eventually add up to real money from marketers for the charity of their choice. Since the app launched in December, CauseWorld users, with retail check-ins alone, are donating at a rate of more than $200,000 per month, thanks to sponsors such as P&G, Kraft and Citi.
In the next few weeks, those consumers will earn extra points when they pick up products such as Pampers, Tide, Gilette or, yes, even Tampax, to scan the barcode with their phones. P&G was the first marketer to sign on for product check-ins, but Kraft has followed suit with 32 products, including Miracle Whip, Oreo, Ritz and Philadelphia.
"Scanning products for karmas enables us to be one step closer to the point of purchase and drive deeper consumer engagement," said Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation-consumer experiences at Kraft Foods. With Citi, Kraft funded the initial pool of $500,000 for donations and is increasing its investment to coincide with the product check-in program. P&G's involvement also includes donation money and, in March, Citi expanded its sponsorship by $350,000.
Earn badges, for charity
One of the first apps to check in to real objects, CauseWorld is proof that location-based mobile might just have legs for consumer package goods. With the product in hand, users can scan each product once a day and can also earn badges that get posted to Facebook. With enough karmas, users then pick a charity from a list including clean water and micro-finance organizations to donate to.
CauseWorld is the first app from developer ShopKick, which is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers' iFund and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. CEO Cyriac Roeding said CauseWorld is ShopKick's primary focus for now, but not the last app from his company; we can expect a non-charity app in the coming months.
"The goal is going from checking in to checking out," said Mr. Roeding. "Checking in is interesting, but what happens after the check in? That's what's scanning for karma is about: You're checking out the product and potentially taking it to the check out at the register later."