- Office Depot has partnered with Pocket Points to reward college students with discounts on school supplies and other items for staying off their mobile phones during class time.
- By opening the Pocket Points application on campus and then locking their phones, students earn points that can be redeemed directly through the app or online at the Office Depot website to save money on school and dorm supplies.
- The Office Depot offer will be available in 45 of Pocket Points’ markets, including Auburn University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Penn State University and Texas A&M University.
It turns out there is indeed an app for everything, including an app that rewards users who aren't using mobile apps — at least at specific times. To prove there's a need for something like that in the daily lives of college students, Office Depot and Pocket Points trotted out data from a 2013 University of Nebraska-Lincoln study showing that college students were spending 20% of class time using digital devices for unrelated activities.
Setting aside the possibility that willingness to be distracted by your phone in class may be indicative of bigger problems that may keep such students from staying in school long enough to cash in on their Office Depot rewards, this is an interesting and well-meaning idea.
It's also at least a small indication that Office Depot is still trying to be enterprising even amid a disastrous series of events that included the federal government blocking a planned merger with Staples, the closing of hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores and, most recently, the announcement that Roland Smith will retire from the CEO job when a successor is found.
Following its most recent revenue plunge, reported in its second quarter earnings last month, Office Depot touted a strategic revamp and new commitment to revive the company. The alignment with Pocket Points, though again potentially small potatoes in the grand scheme, does show the company trying to reach out to a type of customer — the college student — that could be considered outside its traditional wheelhouse of office folk. The revival plan needs to do much more than that, but it's a start.