PepCoin by PepsiCo is a program that rewards consumers with the opportunity to earn cash back when they purchase at least one specially marked PepsiCo 20 oz beverage and one specially marked Frito-Lay snack.
And here’s how it’s supposed to do it:
- The consumer buys a bottle of soda from Pepsi and a bag of chips from a Pepsi subsidiary. (Upsales!)
- The consumer must have a PepCoin account. (Add your email address to their list! I’m sure you won’t get snack-food-related spam at all!)
- The consumer “scans” or enters in codes from the packaging “within 48 hours of each other.” This is very important, as having your soda and your chips at different times will invalidate the promotion. You can game the system, though, by saving your empty soda bottle until the next time you buy a bag of chips or vice versa.
- PepsiCo then sends the consumer “up to 10% cash back” via Vemmo or PayPal. Note that this only happens once you’ve built up $2 in PepCoin, so the consumer must have consumed at least $20 worth of PepsiCo products.
So instead of just offering a twofer sale, PepsiCo makes people jump through hoops to get that savings (jumping through hoops counts as “engaging with the brand” to marketers), plus incentivizing combo buying (to qualify for the sale) and repeat purchases (to reach that minimum $20), plus linking snack-food purchases to people’s Paypal or Vemmo accounts, and thus their identities and also, they hope, their smartphone’s unique serial numbers. (The reason I put “scans” in sneer quotes above is that PepsiCo really really wants people to use their smartphone cameras, unlocking permissions as necessary. Just look at the instruction videos on the PepCoin home page.)
Speaking of permissions, I’m surprised that PepCoin doesn’t (yet) have an associated app, given that even the PEPfeed app (for those who don’t get enough Pepsi advertising already) wants permission to track your location and identify (and email?) your friends and acquaintances through your calendar. Why didn’t they try to create a third channel of data mining? Has a marketer, somewhere deep in the bowels of PepsiCo, heard of overreach? Or did they just think an app would create an extra barrier to user adoption?
Also, the PepCoin logo is fucking atrocious:
It got me interested in learning more, though, so I guess it did its job, although my morbid curiosity about it (“surely PepsiCo can’t have been stupid enough to create its own altcoin”) didn’t cause me to buy any Doritos.