Chicago rewards program brings quirky take to the platform

by: Nichole Gunn February 27, 2012

Customer loyalty programs are taking a quirky turn with Belly, a digital loyalty rewards program representing more than 500 businesses in the Chicago area alone, launched in August and is now putting an interesting spin on the traditional customer reward program.

What was once reserved for punch cards that require 10 stamps before earning a free sandwich has now expanded to arm wrestling matches and blind dates at bakeries with Belly, created by Logan LaHive, who teamed up with Lightbank, the investment fund supporting Groupon, to use social media and the web to revolutionize the loyalty program, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Belly is looking to expand to other major markets and cities across the country, helping merchants transition from the "buy 10, get one free" stamp or punch cards to one singular card or an all-encompassing smartphone app that will allow the customer to cash in points and redeem those points for purchases or zany prizes.

"I have a wallet full – like everyone else – a wallet full of 20 or 30 different punch cards, and I started to look at my phone and I was starting to get apps for Starbucks and Snarf's and Jamba Juice and all these other places and I thought there was a better way," LaHive told the newspaper.

Some of the offbeat prizes offered include the opportunity to arm wrestle an employee at Snarf's eatery in the Goose Island neighborhood for the paltry sum of 125 points. To set up a date with a cupcake girl at Molly's Cupcake in Lincoln Park, the customer must first accumulate 500 loyalty points.
"It's not just kitsch for kitsch's sake," LaHive told the newspaper. "We try to create rewards 1.) that people will talk about and 2.) that people are actually interested in trying to achieve."

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