A chance meeting last year between a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” software developer for the retail industry and a investment portfolio manager has spawned a new market research enterprise enlisting consumers who are immediately rewarded for their efforts through a smartphone application.
Rewardable.com is the brainchild of Newtown resident John Boccuzzi, Jr, and Peter Komassa, who currently resides in New York City. The pair launched their website Rewardable.com and its companion smartphone application recently, and have been piloting the project in and around Newtown and the Northeast.
“We saw an opportunity to remove an inefficiency in the retail marketplace,” Mr Boccuzzi told The Newtown Bee during a recent visit to the South Main Street Stop & Shop and Panera Bread Company, two locations that are part of the growing number of retailers participating in Rewardable market research tasks.
Through a broad network of retail contacts, Mr Boccuzzi and Mr Komassa began signing up clients who will either supplement conventional market research secret shoppers or other projects, or bypass them altogether using strictly Rewardable.com minions who have signed up to take photos or report on their shopping experiences as they are engaged in the activity.
“We’re piloting the program in Newtown and expanding it now to see how consumers are interacting with the technology,” Mr Boccuzzi said. “We’re seeing good feedback so far. Last weekend we had one person make over $40 going store to store.”
Currently the pilot programs are in about ten metropolitan markets, and plans are firm to take Rewardable nationwide by November. So how can consumers begin earning instant cash during their shopping trips?
The only tool they need is an iPhone or Android smartphone, Mr Boccuzzi explained. Consumers must visit and sign up for the program at Rewardable.com, then begin picking tasks in the area where they either plan to shop, or are willing to go to begin racking up Rewardable project compensation — typically between $4 and $7 per task.
“Generally the tasks take about five minutes or so to complete,” Mr Komassa added. “It gives the consumer a few dollars extra to spend, it helps the store, it helps the brand they are reporting on, and most of all, it’s fun.”
Why would a major brand like Kraft Foods rely on consumer-generated market research over the products provided by a professional market research firm? Simple, replied Mr Boccuzzi — timing and the bottom line.
“A brand could spend four to five times as much as they are paying Rewardable to audit through a professional service,” he said, “and it’s much more efficient.”
Why Rewardable Works
Take for instance, a package of parmesan cheese that goes on sale at 100 Stop & Shop stores on a Thursday. The brand hosting the promotion wants to make sure that cheese is well stocked, and the in-line or end cap promotions are installed and visible first thing Thursday morning, and they stay that way for the length of the promotion.
Instead of contracting a more expensive market research firm that might not get a representative to the store until the weekend or the following Monday, Rewardable taps shoppers in the store Thursday morning, and at various times every day in some cases, to audit the location and stocking of that product.
In another case, a consumer who may be patronizing Panera may be asked to take a phone cam photo of the outside of the building to ensure proper signage is being displayed. Or the Rewardable rep may be asked to take that photo after dark, to assure the franchise owner that all the signage is appropriately lit.
These are two of the examples of tasks that Newtown resident Karen Maday Smiley had to perform since she signed on with Rewardable a few weeks ago.
“I’ve done about 12 tasks so far, two last weekend,” Ms Smiley told The Bee. “There are a lot of assignments available, but I’m basically doing ones that are convenient, or near places where I am already going.”
Pay For Shopping
Ms Smiley admitted she is not getting wealthy doing Rewardable tasks, but “it pays for part of what I would be buying at the locations anyway.”
She checks the Rewardable app on her iPhone regularly to see what new tasks have popped up along her normal travel routes.
“On one trip to Stop & Shop I did four tasks,” she said, adding that she never worked in market research before. “Rewardable makes it a very user-friendly process.”
The beauty of Rewardable from a client perspective, is they are getting aggregated data on their products or projects in real time, Mr Boccuzzi said.
Mr Komassa noted that in just the short time since launching their service, many other companies outside the conventional retail arena are looking at how to tap into the growing Rewardable workforce, who fan out every day like the squirrel on its logo to pick up a few dollars here and a few dollars there.
“For example, insurance companies are looking at us for providing underwriting and risk information from drive-by photos taken by our Rewardable users,” he said. “Property managers can use our people to be sure snow is shoveled from common area sidewalks in their apartment and condo complexes, or in their retail centers.”
Rewardable compensates users almost instantaneously via PayPal or GoBank.com.
“It’s so fast in some cases that consumers can spend the money they just made while on the same shopping trip,” Mr Boccuzzi said.
Rewardable is currently offering a $10 incentive for consumers to sign up for the program. Assignments or tasks are available hourly on a first-come, first served basis, he added.
“Currently there are more than $1,000 worth of tasks available per week here in Connecticut,” he said. “And we’re planning to see the task availability grow exponentially in the coming months.”