RFID Helps Mondelez Market Its Trident Gum

By Edson Perin

The company is testing how smartphone apps and Bluetooth beacons can deliver benefits to college-age consumers and the university canteens where they purchase chewing gum.

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Multinational company Mondelēz is employing an innovative solution to market its Trident brand of chewing gum in Brazil. The campaign, which uses battery-powered beacons based on the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specification (also known as Bluetooth Smart), was launched in partnership with Collact, a startup that develops smartphone applications that function as loyalty cards at bars, coffee shops, restaurants and other establishments.

“Instead of you having to carry a bunch of little cards to paste stamps each time you make a purchase at the canteen, for example, everything is in hand—the smartphone,” says Bernardo Brugnara, one of Collact’s founders. To accomplish this, all that a consumer needs to do is download the Collact application from the Apple or Google Play website. During the registration process, consumers provide such information as their sex, age, phone number, and e-mail address.

Collact provides merchants with an application they can use to analyze consumer behavior.

For the Trident project, Collact is installing Bluetooth beacons provided by Estimote at participating retailers’ point-of-sale terminals. Initially, the campaign is being tested in the canteens and coffee shops of the following schools in the São Paulo area: ESPM (at both its graduate and undergraduate facilities), Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC), Mackenzie, Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV), Uninove Memorial, Uninove Barra Funda, Anhembi Morumbi Vila Olimpia, and the Liberdade campus of Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas (FMU).

According to Daniel Silber, Trident’s marketing manager in Brazil, the campaign’s targets are university students 18 to 24 years of age. “With RFID technology, Collact creates a new shopping experience in which consumers receive custom messages inviting them to try our different products,” he says. “We believe this is a good way to integrate technology with consumer goods, and it will be interesting to analyze how consumers and establishments that sell Trident—in this case, school canteens and coffee shops—receive and interact with the application.”

Any student with a smartphone is eligible to participate in the promotions. The concept is similar to that of loyalty cards used in Brazil, where customers receive a paper sticker to paste onto their cards every time they make a purchase. With the Collact solution, however, there is no need to paste anything. Purchases are recorded automatically and are stored on Collact’s cloud-based server. Based on this purchasing history, the consumer is awarded points, which accumulate and can eventually be redeemed for merchandise or other awards.

In addition, the merchant gains a powerful tool for analyzing the behavior of its customers, and for identifying each individual’s preferences, via a Collact application that the retailer installs on a computer or tablet. With this Collact app, college canteens can develop new products or promotions, or make business decisions.

According to Silber, the technology serves as an interactive tool for building customer loyalty and increasing sales. “We see the Collact app and beacons as a new way for marketers to meet consumer demand,” he says, “and better suited for today’s technological reality.” The Trident executive reports that by being interactive and simplifying how points are earned and redeemed, the technology fosters consumer loyalty.

In the store, a shopper’s smartphone receives a promotional notice when it comes within range of a beacon, and can earn a “virtual scratch-off” to reveal a freebie or discount at the point of purchase of Trident gum.

“Moreover,” Silber adds, “the beacon gives the merchant access to information regarding customer behavior, creating a ranking of frequency and average sales amount.”

The partnership with Collact, Silber says, “began as part of a global Mondelēz project called Mobile Futures. Certain brands within the company selected the best startups in Brazil to co-create technology that would have an impact, and Trident opted for initiatives that bring engagement and interaction at the time of purchase. Collact’s system provided the ideal tool for this, since it is used at the point of sale.”

The “virtual scratch-off”: Swipe your finger across the screen and an image of the awarded prize appears.

The beacons let a retailer know, with good accuracy, where registered customers are located, Brugnara explains. “This makes it possible, for example, for persons who like Trident to receive promotions just when they’re in the checkout line, about to make the payment,” he states.

For instance, the system can send to the smartphone a “virtual scratch-off”—an image that reveals a prize once that shopper passes a finger across the phone’s screen. It could be a discount on the purchase price, for example, or the option of receiving a free cup of coffee.

The project so far is a pilot, Silber notes, and the extent to which it is implemented is currently being analyzed. “Our ambition is to expand the distribution of technology,” he states, “impacting more consumers and collaborating with more establishments that sell Trident.”

Trident’s Daniel Silber

With this initiative, Silber hopes that consumers who buy Trident gum can collect more points to exchange for benefits at universities. By supporting the use of Bluetooth beacons in Brazil, he aims to strengthen Trident’s positioning as a brand that seeks new ways in which to engage consumers and interact with them creatively.

Brugnara believes that Bluetooth beacons are transforming the smartphone into an even smarter device. “The mobile phone is no longer blind,” he says. “Collact was conceived as a company that provides relationship programs to sellers and customers, and the beacon has the power to connect people. So we developed software to understand the signals of beacons using the BLE 4.0 Bluetooth protocol.”

Brugnara explains that “the beacon is transmitting all the time, so when the customer approaches it, it communicates with the application, and the application sends information to our database remotely. Then we know the user name and if he is entitled to win a prize. “

Collact’s Bernardo Brugnara

The purpose of the tool is to conduct promotions, facilitate communication with customers and increase revenue. “By the time the consumer opens the Collact application at the point of sale,” Brugnara says, “we have already sent the information to the site of the establishment.” Thus, he adds, the beacon promotes sales. “When the student enters college for lunch, this is the time that Trident would most likely be offered to the consumer to buy. Then the establishment can send a notification to the person, encouraging him or her to buy.”

Collact charges retailers R$150 (US$65) as a monthly fee per site for the application’s use. “Trident does not charge the establishment, as it allows the use of the solution to ensure that the canteen is always stocked [with chewing gum].”