As with most of America, my wife loves Black Friday. I’m not quite sure what she comes home with every year – usually, it’s stuff that we don’t really need – but the act of getting up at 3 AM, or waiting in line at Best Buy for a 40” TV at midnight, seems to have become almost as American as Thanksgiving itself.
Last year, part of the fun was the Foursquare check-ins. Being able to stop by Sports Authority and get a gift card with a check-in, or head to Z Gallerie and weasel some “free” picture frames with a couple of check-ins, added to the entertainment of the usual Black Friday deals. After all, not everyone knew about them, meaning that you weren’t stuck competing with the masses at an ungodly hour. (We got the Z Gallerie deal last year close to the end of the day, and it was intended for the first five check-ins in the store).
So this year, my wife asked me where the good deals were on Foursquare. Last year, there was a great deal of buzz surrounding Foursquare and Black Friday. After all, there had been more retail check-ins on Black Friday in 2010 than any other day of the year, and 2011 garnered a great deal of check-ins (this site says 2 billion, but I’m guessing it’s 2 million). Where did I go to find these deals? Google, of course. And what did I find? Outside of a nebulous listing of a deal at Kohl’s – nothing.
This is kind of a bummer for the 25 million users of Foursquare. How did things change so quickly?
Many retailers now have their own apps, complete with push notifications. As mobile is becoming more of a cornerstone of the shopping experience and retailers are realizing that the smartphone isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, retailers know that one of the best ways to interact with customers is by going directly to them. For example, Target’s app allows users to scan UPC codes and save items – and they aren’t alone.
Foursquare is geographically centered in big cities – which tend to lack big box retailers. This was something that was apparent last year, when we spent Thanksgiving in the Midwest. That Z Gallerie deal above – it was still available at the end of the day, simply because there aren’t as many people using Foursquare in Kansas City as in San Francisco or New York, for example. Bloggers also mentioned the paucity of Foursquare deals for larger retailers (i.e. Walmart), which didn’t impact their revenues.
Foursquare is placing more impact on the UK than the US.Foursquare has been making a push across the pond, including an emphasis on pubs (where you can earn a badge for checking into pubs – might make for some good market research). They’ve not placed the same emphasis on the US market of late.
Foursquare’s competition with Yelp has impacted their main focus. If you’ve noticed recently, Foursquare is becoming more Yelp-ish – with reviews and more of a focus on the actual places – and Yelp is becoming more like Foursquare, with their “Dukes” being akin to mayors. Foursquare’s use of its data for its Explore tab may ultimately be its biggest advantage, and retail deals have minimal impact on that.
It’s not as important to check in as it used to be. With less of an impact on deals, and more users simply using the Explore tab to find things, fewer users may be checking in. (I assume the stats are in Fort Knox – you’d figure if Foursquare was blowing the doors off with its check-in numbers they’d share them, but they’re near-impossible to find).
Why else do you think there would be so many fewer deals this year than last?
Image Credit: 401(K) 2012