It has been a pretty good year for Foursquare so far. The number of people playing the online location based game has rocketed, it recently announced some interesting partnerships with UK retailers and it has Vodafone on board too.
And now Foursquare appears to have landed the big one. According to Mashable the company has just agreed a deal with the biggest coffee maker of them all – Starbucks. The actual deal itself isn’t very exciting either for Starbucks or Foursquare addicts. Starting today, frequent Starbucks visitors who check in at retail locations using Foursquare will earn customer rewards. Although there’s no financial incentive or free coffee to begin with, customers can unlock the “Barista badge” after five check ins.
Starbucks, however, has a very high profile customer loyalty scheme in place where regulars can get free extra shots, syrups and soy milk just by using their Starbucks card. The company is clearly monitoring Foursquare to see how popular it has become and then will try to work out if it can incorporate it into its loyalty schemes. The New York Times Bits Blog writes that the company is “hoping to use Foursquare to provide even more meaningful prizes, like invitations to special events, photo-sharing or online reputation scores.”
Incidentally there’s no confirmation that the deal will apply in the UK.
The real win for Foursquare is that it is being taken very seriously by the world’s largest coffee chain; this can only lead to other deals with other innovative brands.
Foursquare on the surface might look like a geeky game (albeit an addictive one) but once users start collecting badges and tokens that they can exchange for real world goods and services it then evolves into something very exciting.