Most Innovative Companies: Foursquare

15  Foursquare

For creating a new way to reward consumer loyalty

HEADQUARTERS

NYC, New York

WEB

Foursquare

TWITTER

@foursquare

BLOG

Foursquare Blog

 To understand what Foursquare--the app that rewards you for "checking in" at shops, airport terminals, and basically everywhere--wants to do for businesses, Tristan Walker, its business-development director, suggests thinking about stereotypical big-screen chefs: "You know how the chef in the movies always goes out and thanks the wealthy guy? We want to replicate that with software. The loyal guy doesn't always look like the wealthy guy." Foursquare also offers retailers many ways to customize rewards. Walker points out six real-world examples:

1. LULULEMON

Bigger partners such as this yoga-centric chain tend tocreate entire campaigns around Foursquare. Lululemon rewards users with "gifts of yoga," like free passes to affiliated studios.

2. STARBUCKS

The coffee chain partnered with Foursquare to develop its own mark of loyalty. Users earn a Barista Badge for checking in at five different Starbucks outlets. Other brands with badges include Bravo TV and The Wall Street Journal.

3. WHOLE FOODS

The grocer is one of the only major Foursquare partners to decentralize its offerings. Store managers tailor and run their own promotions: One may offer free lemonade for every 10th check-in; another may give out free reusable bags.

4. BORDERS

Forty percent of Foursquare's traffic is outside the U.S.; the bookseller's Australian stores reward return visitors with coupons.

5. PAXTI'S CHICAGO PIZZA &
6. MONIQUE'S CHOCOLATES

The vast majority of Foursquare retailers are small businesses like these two favorites in Palo Alto, Walker's home base. Foursquare offers a free self-service platform to create specials and an analytics dashboard with data on Foursquare-using customers. Walker says such retailers are key in his quest to "re-create that remember-your-name loyalty that customers really want."

Tristan Walker, Foursquare's director of business development. Photo illustration: Matt Hoyle

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