Currency Of Change: New Technologies Which Offer Compelling Rewards

People are aspirational. We want to be healthy, well-educated, knowledgeable, creative and ethical. We want to do good, but not just for ‘goodness sake’ ’we also want our good behavior to be rewarded. The solution? Currency of Change, a combination of new technologies which offer compelling rewards that help customers become the people they want to be.

Changing the Self 

Whether it be through discounts, vouchers or rewards, one way that smart brands are taking action when it comes to their customer’s quest for personal enhancement is by leveraging the power of smartphones and wearable devices to reward good behavior. They offer personal, innovative, fun, timely, targeted and ultimately relevant rewards in order to help people achieve their goals.

Among those brands that are incentivizing change which improves individual wellbeing, New York based Oscar Insurance company rewards their customers for walking. Their new health policy provides customers with a free Misfit fitness tracker that works along with an app to measure personal fitness. Customers earn a USD 1 reward for each day that they attain their goal, with the chance to earn a total of up to USD 240 annually in the form of Amazon vouchers.

In June 2014, Brazilian TV station SBT launched a pop-up anti-smoking campaign which allowed people to exchange cigarettes for free gifts. Based on each cigarette being equivalent to 11 minutes of longer life, when people placed cigarettes in the machine, they were rewarded with free leisure-related gifts, such as magazines or movie tickets.

Changing for Society

When it comes to incentivizing consumers to be better members of society, there are a number of brands that are paving the way. In February 2015, the makers of the activity tracker Fitbit partnered with hunger-relief charity Feeding America to launch the FitforFood campaign. Any user of a Fitbit device  can opt in to the program, which will see every calorie they burn go towards a goal of 1 billion calories burned by all participants. If the target is hit, the 1 billion calories will buy 1.5 million meals for US citizens in need. 

MaximusLife is an online platform which syncs with charitable organizations. It allows users to set goals and track progress via digital timelines, as well as connect with others for support. The platform allows users to earn rewards when goals are achieved which can take the form of retail discounts or donations to a specified charity. 

Yes, this trend is being driven by new technologies that enable rewards to be ever more personal and relevant to customers’ aspirations for change, but the Currency of Change doesn’t necessarily have to be completely tech-driven or expensive. An example of a low tech innovation is the Positive Ticketing Program an initiative of the Prince Albert Police Service in Canada. Designed to reward positive behavior by local youth, patrol members can issue tickets which can be redeemed for prizes such as movie tickets, meals and sports games.

Changing for the Planet

Finally, there are a number of brands who are incentivizing consumers who want to live more sustainably. Changers is a free tracking app that rewards users for choosing sustainable transport options. When users take a journey on foot, or by public transport, the app compares the carbon imprint of the journey to that of the same journey made by car. Any emission savings are converted into Recoin units, which can be used to purchase CO2 certificates to make car or plane rides carbon neutral.

Another example is Brazilian haircare brand Seda which launched an interactive installation allowing consumers to exchange empty shampoo bottles for cellphone credit. For two weeks in February 2015, Uruguayan shoe brand MAMUT accepted plastic bottles as currency when consumers purchased shoes from their summer ‘Native’ line. Each bottle was worth 100 Uruguayan dollars — about USD 4 — and customers could use bottles to finance up to 40% of their purchase. The project was intended to assist with a drive to clean up local beaches, and all bottles collected were sent for recycling.

Another low-tech example, McDonald’s in Stockholm launched a promotion which enabled residents to pay for food by recycling cans. The fast food chain unveiled special billboards dispensing trash bags at music festivals and parks, each printed with a price list. In exchange for ten cans, people could get a free hamburger, while Big Macs were worth 40 cans.

Time to mint your own Currency of Change? What forms of change are important to your customers but overlooked by other brands? What is the most compelling currency to offer, rewards, discounts or hard cash?

Read also Joi’s article on how to create a personal brand.

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