updated 09:50 pm EDT, Fri April 19, 2013
Harvester restaurant creates special offer for iPhone users only
A UK restaurant chain is experimenting with an iPhone-only coupon, usable through Apple's Passbook app, in an effort to attract new customers. The Harvester coupon, which offers £5 ($7.60) off any bill of £30 ($45.70) or more, "exceeded our expectations," according to the chain, with a nearly five percent redemption rate (similar ads generally see only a 1-2 percent redemption rate in most industries). The promotion was limited only to iPhone users who had Passbook, a feature of iOS 6 -- but the app is catching on with other businesses.
Apple's Passbook app has been received enthusiastically by frequent fliers, coffee drinkers and baseball fans in particular. Both Major League Baseball and a number of US and UK airlines now use it for boarding passes or admission to games and report a "high uptake."
American Airlines has said that more than 20,000 passes per day are redeemed through the app. Makeup chain Sephora says it has more than 375,000 customers with cards linked to Passbook, while Starbucks has enthusiastically promoted the app's use in conjunction with its own loyalty card program.
The campaign as the first of its kind for a retail business in the UK, being entirely digital and limited to iPhone users. Ads targeted at iOS mobile devices could easily respond to get a unique voucher code texted to them, which was automatically stored to Passbook. When the customer paid the bill, the voucher was scanned into point-of-sale terminals. It said that each redeemed voucher actually cost the company only about $5.19, making the campaign very cost-efficient according to Millennial Media, which hosted the campaign.
A spokesperson for the company said that "clearly, Apple Passbook users love a great deal as much as they love their technology" and that the voucher experiment "gave us the real-time data and secure redemption we needed to control the offer with confidence." Other companies using Passbook extensively include Netflix, Fandango and Cineplex Odeon for movies, loyalty programs and theatre tickets; Stubhub, EventBrite and LiveNation for concert and event tickets; American Express and Discover for payment and reward-certificate redemption; coupon sites Kiip and Billguard, as well as Walgreens (replacing its plastic loyalty fob), McDonalds, retailer Target and lodging site Airbnb, among others.