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Coca-Cola sweetens up loyalty perks with Android Pay collaboration

Coca-Cola is the premier marketer joining forces with Google?s Android Pay loyalty platform, enabling the beverage marketer to enjoy a slew of benefits including the ability to influence consumer behavior changes, gain data-heavy CRM and receive a competitive advantage over other rewards programs in the sector.

At Las Vegas?s Money 20/20 conference, Google discussed its mobile payment service?s features and highlighted the upcoming loyalty platform for Android Pay. The program is kicking off with backing from Coca-Cola, a move that will likely ramp up sales for the fizzy drink as well as introduce a slew of Coke fans and Android users to a new payment tool that could rival Apple Pay.

?The lone wolf routine is getting old,? said Jeff Berry, senior director at LoyaltyOne, Toronto. ?You just can?t do it alone these days; partnerships ? whether co-branded credit cards, teaming up with complementary companies or joining a formal coalition program ? are the only ways to create long-term, differentiated and meaningful value for customers.

?When it comes to loyalty, there truly is strength in numbers.?

All-encompassing benefits
The Google executive claimed that millions of Android customers have linked their credit or debit card information to the payment platform, with more than 60 percent of them never having used Google Wallet.

This suggests that Android Pay is tapping into a new audience of consumers who have not been able to use the iOS payment system. Furthermore, Android?s counterpart will have the added support of major brands when it launches in the near future.

Users will be able to purchase cans of Coke from NFC-enabled vending machines by holding their smartphones up to the scanner. After the purchase is completed, customers will receive reward points which they may accumulate for future redemption of sodas.

This tool will allow marketers to better track purchasing data, a strategy that could be invaluable in persuading more major brands to team up with Android Pay?s loyalty platform. Android Pay is also likely better-suited to reach a wider clientele, as its functionalities are available for all devices falling under its umbrella, unlike the specificity of Samsung Pay.

Therefore, marketers seeking to ramp up sales or awareness of their relatively inexpensive products could eventually clamor to join the Google partnership ranks. In return, Android Pay is well-poised to enjoy the support of many Coca-Cola fans who may be convinced to download and use the platform if they can redeem points for free beverages in the future.

While some marketers may be wary of having their own branded rewards system ? as Coca-Cola does with My Coke Rewards ? the tactic may actually be beneficial if undertaken with the right execution. My Coke Rewards offers tiered prizes for loyal customers who take the time to enter in product codes and monitor their accounts.

Conversely, the Coca-Cola partnership with Android Pay may be seen as more of a quick fix for the general consumer. Individuals that skew toward drinking Coke when choosing a soda from a vending machine may be prompted to use Android Pay and continue selecting Coca-Cola beverages if they know a complimentary one is in their grasp.

?Partnerships provide brands with a means of accessing the customers of other brands as a means of winning new customers and fostering higher brand loyalty,? said Scott Robinson, vice president of design and strategy at Bond Brand Loyalty, Toronto. ?Moreover, partnerships enable brands to fulfill customer needs more quickly, cost-effectively and sometimes even more credibly, than they might be able to do on their own.?

?For instance, Starbucks recently introduced Spotify and Lyft to its loyalty program mix, to broaden the appeal of its My Starbucks Rewards value proposition. Amex?s Plenti coalition loyalty program fit this partnership approach too ? brands coming together with other brands to acquire, engage and retain customers together.?

Google is also maintaining its partnerships with MasterCard, Visa, American Express and card-issuing banks.

Uncapping mobile?s prowess
Coca-Cola?s agreement with Android Pay continues to add fizz to the marketer?s strong mobile strategy, which has catapulted it to the top of its sector.

Coca-Cola recently became the first brand to use a paid emoji on Twitter in a branded content campaign that combined a custom icon of two soda bottles with the #ShareaCoke hashtag (see story).

Additionally, following Coke Zero?s success earlier this year with a mobile-enabled interactive campaign dubbed ?drinkable,? the brand took another sip and brought it back in a bigger way ? including several key engagements via the Shazam application ? for college football season (see story).

?If partnerships are thoughtfully chosen and executed, everybody wins,? LoyaltyOne's Mr. Berry said. ?Consumers often become more engaged, enjoy the ease of consolidating much of their loyalty efforts and can earn rewards much faster ? the ultimate win in the loyalty game.

?As for program administrators, there are also several big payoffs to taking a partnership approach: They have a better chance of prompting behavioral changes in consumers, gaining access to a more data-rich CRM platform and winning a sustainable competitive advantage by creating an offering that stands out from the crowd,? he said.

?In our survey, 27 percent of respondents ranked the ability to earn points from multiple retailers as one of their top three appealing program features.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York