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7-Eleven looks to nail mobile check-ins to build 360-degree digital strategy

A new promotion with 7-Eleven and PepsiCo.’s Doritos provides some insight into how the convenience store chain may be positioning itself to grab a bigger role in mobile payments and loyalty.

The 7-Eleven and Doritos campaign is running within SessionM’s network of reward-based applications. The campaign supports the launch of PepsiCo.’s Doritos Jacked mystery chips that gives fans the chance to vote for their favorite flavor out of three chip flavors, with the wining flavor rolling out to retail shelves this fall.

“Given the abundance of apps, I think having broad capability across apps to drive check-ins will be important for retailers,” said Atul Sabharwal, founder of Snipp Interactive, Washington.

“With the cable industry, people tuned out at seven channels that they watched frequently,” he said. “Similarly with apps, there is a human threshold at which you just get accustomed to using a set number of apps frequently, and I highly doubt a single retailer app will be part of those frequent set of apps that you use. Consequently going broad [with third-party apps] will be important.”

Mr. Sabharwal is not affiliated with 7-Eleven or Doritos. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

7-Eleven and Doritos did not respond to press inquiries.

Checking in to mobile?
Consumers who use apps such as TMZ, MTV News and Crackle can rack up points in exchange for interacting with pieces of content on a daily basis. For example, users earn points for sharing articles or viewing a photo gallery.

In addition to points associated with content, SessionM’s apps also integrate check-ins at retail locations that unlock points.

Consumers who are within certain geo-fenced areas around 7-Eleven locations can check-in to stores to receive 25 additional points. Once consumers check-in, a full-page ad for the Doritos promotion pops up.

A mini game lets consumers play a time-sensitive scratch game where they can swipe their fingers over three bags of mystery-flavor chips that correspond to a number of points.

Matching up two bags of chips with the same number unlocks additional bonus points that are applied to an mPoints account, which is SessionM’s currency.

At the end of the game, there is a call-to-action prompting consumers to click through to learn more about Doritos new Jacked chips via a microsite. The microsite integrates an on-pack sweepstakes that leverages UPC codes as a game piece for a chance at winning prizes, including real gold and a yearlong Xbox Live Gold membership.

Bolstering digital
The Doritos promotion is the newest example of how 7-Eleven is aiming to build up its mobile efforts through location-based technology.

The convenience store chain has run several similar promotions to help propel awareness about new consumer-packaged-goods products this year.

In February, 7-Eleven worked with Pepsi rival Coca-Cola to roll out a mobile coupon program for the launch of a Diet Coke cherry-flavored Slurpee. The effort included SMS calls-to-action and a partnership with navigational app Waze (see story).

7-Eleven has also updated its iPhone app with a new feature that groups all mobile coupons together. The new app uses a single barcode that can be scanned each time a consumer is in-store.

Since launching in 2010, 7-Eleven has consistently been tweaking its mobile app as part of a bigger push to presumably roll out mobile payments eventually.

Most recently, 7-Eleven and Best Buy began shutting down their near-field communications capabilities within stores as marketers increasingly push the form of payment back to the backburner. 7-Eleven is also among a group of merchants involved in an initiative called the Merchant Customer Exchange — or MCX — that is developing a mobile payment service that does not use NFC (see story).

The Doritos campaign is an interesting example of how 7-Eleven is honing in on location as one piece of a bigger marketing strategy.

“My view is that the check-in capability is really more of a standard feature that with geo-fencing can be completely automated,” Mr. Sabharwal said.

“The bigger question to reward loyalty is can retailers verify purchases in-store via their apps or partner apps to reward loyal purchase behavior versus mere ‘showrooming,’” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York