How did the idea of the Physical Cookie come about – what was the original brief from Sponda?

Sponda wanted to position themselves as innovative property investors, a bold statement that simply couldn't be achieved with old-fashioned push marketing. A brand needs to act and innovate to reach that position. Sponda's mission is to constantly look for new tools that improve its clients' business. TBWA\Helsinki developed the idea pro-actively for Sponda. There was no brief, just a target position.

How did the shopping mall, CityCenter, benefit from the program?

Real time data helps you understand your customers' shopping behavior better. It enables smarter and more relevant marketing inside the shopping mall by using own media channels. This is a disruptive loyalty program for a shopping mall; instead of identifying the loyal customer at the end of the shopping process (purchase), the system identifies loyal customers upon entering the shopping mall. As a result, the shopping experience becomes more fulfilling for the customer.

Did you choose the participating customers, or were the cookies handed out randomly?

All the keychains were handed out randomly, just like online cookies. We kept the cost low, so they could be handed out to everyone visiting the mall. Cost per cookie was only 0,17 cents.

How did the partnership with the shopping center stores work?

All of the stores in CityCenter had the opportunity to join the program. We created a personalized and smart in-store media to drive foot-flow and sales by delivering tailored, real-time messages for each of the stores. As Citycenter's clients, the stores have been very interested in the real-time data the system can provide them.

What did consumers say about the experience? How did you reassure those who found the idea of personalized ads intrusive?

The consumers enjoyed the Physical Cookie experience. Since we don't need personal information (such as name, gender, address, occupation), it is a marketing-as-a-service type of experience. The system learns from the behavioral data. So, instead of annoying push notifications, our shopping environment reacts to the shopper, offering more relevant messages and personalized offers.

What about privacy issues?

Privacy is not an issue, since the whole system is based on anonymity. We 're only interested in the customers' shopping behavior. This, we believe, is a game changer. Instead of sign ups and loyalty cards, Physical Cookie offers a low opt-in loyalty program that makes marketing feel like a service. It's scalable too, from a single brick'n'mortar to global chains.

Physical Cookie VS iBeacon, what's the difference?

The Physical Cookie system is low opt-in, as it doesn't invade your personal space. Since the Cookie is always on (unlike bluetooth that can be switched off), it is easy to use. Just keep your keys with you and you're automatically a member of the loyalty program. Stores are already installing iBeacons; when you walk past a shelf they periodically ping your smart phone with an ad or an offer. This is all about to change as more brands join in. Soon - if you keep your iBeacon functionality on – you'll be spammed with messages. We wanted to disrupt that. Instead of spamming you with messages, we wanted to make the retail space react to your behavior.

Could Physical Cookie used for other purposes than a shopping mall loyalty program?

Yes. It could work also for a single retail chain, like IKEA or Nike store, either as a part of their existing loyalty program, or as a stand alone, point-of-sales media system.

Does it always have to be a key chain?

No. We are using RFID technology, so it can be installed in almost anything. The reason why we choose a key chain in Sponda's case was that people have always three things with them when they go shopping (wallet, mobile phone, and keys).

  • 1) Wallet: people already tend to carry a variety of cards, so it is very hard to convince people to add one more to their already stuffed wallets.
  • 2) Mobile phone: there are already too many apps on the market, so we the found opt-in for joining an app-based loyalty program too high. We wanted to find lowest opt-in threshold.
  • 3) Key chain: key chain as such isn't smart, that's why we added a digital layer to a simple product, and then connect it to the internet.