Alcone Marketing Group – Consumer Lab

The Consumer Lab is the consumer insights and brand strategy group at Alcone Marketing Group, a consumer activation company.

Visa, Sonoma County Vitners “goes best with wine reco” via SMS Text & Shelf Talkers in Safeway

Visa has been trying to nudge its upscale customers to use their credit cards in connection with a wine pairing pilot program for the home and in local restaurants around the San
Francisco Bay area.
The mobile campaign started in September with shelf talkers in Safeway and Mollie Stones stores offering information for wine and food pairings via cell phone. Answering a question
about which wine goes best with a dinner being planned is a text message away.
Visa enlisted the assistance of Sonoma County Vintners to assemble the information. In late September, Visa also launched a text message program with top area chefs describing their
favorite entrees to prospective patrons.
“We’re not in this [mobile] space because it’s a proven medium,” says Jon Raj, Visa vice president of advertising and emerging media. “We’re in this space to understand it.”
Actually Visa has worked on some form of mobile marketing for seven years. An early pilot involved sending messages to PDAs.
For the restaurant portion of the new Visa Signature-branded program, dubbed Savory Sound Bites, Visa is presuming that the customer is ready to dine at an exclusive Bay area eatery
— possibly one of the four where the chefs offering dining advice preside. “We’re pretty confident you’re not on your couch. You’re in a restaurant,” Raj says.
There are larger objectives in the test than just giving Visa users another reason to use text messaging, or even reminding them to use their Visa cards. Visa wants to see if it can have an
impact on consumer behavior, according to Raj, while building loyalty among its elite Visa Signature cardholders. “It’s an added value,” he says, “and a way to raise awareness about
additional benefits.”
One of those benefits is an immediate bonus from using either the at-home or restaurant service: the first 100 texters received $25 gift certificates. Both pilots gave cardholders a chance
to give feedback about the text message services, which is a bonus to Visa. “What they’re really doing is answering a survey,” Raj says.
While Visa is a on a bit of a fishing expedition with both pilot programs, it is confident that texting for wine suggestions will catch on.
With the advice of ad agency OMD, it has also tried messaging within video-on-demand formats and podcasting as supplements to traditional media strategies.
It has also ventured into video games, most recently embedding Visa’s presence in the Madden NFL ’08 game in which players can earn virtual financial benefits for their teams by striking
stadium naming rights to Visa. It also has a presence in Ubisoft’s “CSI4: Hard Evidence,” in which Visa’s Continuous Monitoring feature to detect fraudulent purchases plays a role in
helping to solve a murder mystery.
If customers register the kind of response Visa expects to the wine pairings and master chefs’ dining advice, the programs will be extended to other markets early next year. In the
meantime, Raj says, Visa will be evaluating the results to see how the mobile marketing recipe may need to be modified to make it a tasteful success.

Posted by Price!Points


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