Geolocation 2.0: Check into Your Purchases

Check Mark On ChalkboardAs you leave the office and breeze through your post-workday errands you check prices, scan the purchasing list to be sure nothing is missed and, of course, you check in at your chosen bottle of Kraft dressing or package of Gillette razors. Makes perfect sense, right?

Geolocation is a growing trend with many checking into their offices, residences and local haunts on platforms such as FourSquare, Gowalla and Loopt. But checking into your favorite product is a bit different. Unique? Yes. A bit much to digest? Yes. The next wave of geolocation? Undoubtedly.

The March 16, 2010 AdAge article Would You Check in to a Box of Tampax? For Charity? caught my attention, not just for its out-of-the-box headline, but, more importantly, for introducing me to CauseWorld, the free iPhone app that brings geolocation to packaged goods with a charitable twist.

Instead of checking in at Susie’s Snack Stand or Joe’s Java and Juice, consumers will be checking in at the favorite Kraft and P&G products. The early adopters, in what I’ve affectionately dubbed Geolocation 2.0, sponsors P&G, Kraft and Citi have donated to charity at a rate exceeding $200k/mo. since the phenomenon’s December launch.

While scanning product bar codes for ‘karmas’ is a great way to support charity and CauseWorld makes geolocation relevant to packaged goods manufacturers, there are a couple of points worth exploring. Are consumers willing to check-in for charity? What is phase two?

Check-in for Charity

As SXSW 2009’s breakout mobile app, FourSquare was the big thing in geolocation in 2009, so conceivably, 2010 could be a breakout year for CauseWorld, with not only its user base growing but the number of participating brands and products exploding.  With the buzz surrounding geolocation and many users working to establish its role in their everyday lives, it seems CauseWorld comes at a good time – one when people are still establishing their loyalty to a geolocation platform and open to experimentation.  As for whether or not people will buy in, well, if you can check in at the gas station, coffee shop and supermarket, you must have a minute to spare to check-in for charity.

Phase Two

Face it, everything evolves and changes, even the stray things that live outside of the social media sphere;) So where will geolocation go and where is CauseWorld headed?  Having broken into the consumer and packaged goods arena, it seems that the exclusively b2b geolocation app is what is truly missing.

As for the future of CauseWorld, here are a few semi-educated guesses:

  • Build it and they will come – if it’s good enough for Kraft and P&G, assume that brands ranging from titans to unknowns are on their coattails and eager to join-in.
  • The iPhone and Android are the trailblazers but not the only games in town – I anticipate an app for BlackBerry isn’t far behind.
  • Everybody’s a critic – as awareness increases, criticism will likely increase too. It’s just the nature of social media.

While I could easily hypothesize about the viability of CauseWorld and the brands that are next to jump on the bandwagon, I’m most interested in hearing your thoughts. Is this a viable and sustainable form of geolocation? Will consumers take the time to check-in for charity?

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