Two Types of Consumers Are Using Check-in Apps: Hyperactive and Hyperpassive

Foursquare and SCVNGR Reward Active Users, While Xtify Appeals to the Passive

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David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz
Are you a hyperactive or a hyper-passive checker-inner?

The two breeds are emerging and diverging, thanks to the onslaught of location-based services. What's changing now is that mobile technologies are finally in place to meet both types of consumers.

The hyperactive consumer is the one checking in everywhere on Foursquare, racking up badges and mayorships while leaving tips at every venue. Yet Foursquare is table stakes, as reflexive an action as putting a napkin on your lap when you sit down at the table. A typical check-in session includes defending kingdoms and dukedoms on Yelp, inking more stamps on the Gowalla passport, and earning hundreds of points a day in Whrrl societies by leaving recommendations all across the country. For any of these apps, there are rewards for returning to the same businesses over and over, largely in the form of special titles but sometimes tangible deals.

SCVNGR is perhaps the perfect app for the truly hyperactive. It's not just about check-ins and recommendations but completing challenges and treks. Spend enough time doing them in a store or wherever a brand posts them and users will often find monetary prizes in return. The challenges are customized to the marketer and location, created by game designers to make them as engaging as possible so that the user will spend as much time as possible playing them.

The hyperpassive consumer is less of a known entity because there haven't been as many options to serve him. The one with the most hype right now, if not the most promise, is Shopkick, an app that lets consumers earn kickbucks (all too reminiscent of Schrutebucks from "The Office") just by walking into stores and potentially even walking into different departments and locations such as the dressing room. There's something for the hyperactive too, with extra points for barcode scanning and other tasks, but the real promise is for the relatively lazy who still appreciate the value of loyalty cards.

Then there's Xtify, a real boon for the hyper-passive with geo-targeted deals delivered to the phone. On Android devices it works especially well, as any Xtify-powered app can continually serve up promotions as notifications without anyone firing up the app. Another version of this is ShopAlerts, powered by Placecast and Location Labs, sending offers via SMS, social media, or other means. These do away with the concept of the check-in entirely, as it's all about showing up and getting credit for it. With all of these services, no matter how hyper-passive they are, opting in is still required so it is all with consumers' consent.

These offerings for hyperactive and hyperpassive consumers are redefining loyalty programs. Previously, the whole concept was based on buying stuff and getting some kind of credit that could generally be redeemed later for something of cash value. No one got any credit for just walking into a store. This must all sound so alien to traditional retailers -- the consumer who buys a can of Coke, or nothing at all, could wind up with the same rewards as someone blowing their whole paycheck there. Now, marketers are catching on that the hyperactive consumers are broadcasting their personal endorsements with every check-in, and the hyperpassive are willing to share constant information about their whereabouts. Customer retention is just part of the value proposition.

David Berkowitz is senior director of emerging media and innovation, 360i.
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