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INTERVIEW: Clarins South Africa and Foursquare...

Disclosure: Tim Britz, the Brand Manager at Clarins who kindly gave me this interview is a personal friend, and is probably on Foursquare because of my incessant hounding. I have no current commercial ties to Clarins South Africa.

Congrats on getting a Foursquare pilot going. You're probably about the 5th company in SA to reach out to this location based community (which has to have at least 100 people!) How does it feel?

Feels great! Especially in a market like ours, prestige cosmetics, where the marketing channels are very traditional and, dare I say, stale (TV, print, outdoor) it is refreshing to be able to ‘dabble’ in some of the new media.

Brands like Clarins are very strongly governed by international head office rules and guidelines when it comes to marketing and advertising (hence no SA Facebook page or Twitter account – yet – I’m working on it)

I kid! So, what's your role at Clarins?

I look after the Clarins Fragrance Group brands (Thierry Mugler, Azzaro, Porsche Design, Swarovski, etc), but am heavily consulted on by the Clarins marketing team when it comes to anything digital and social media.

Why Foursquare for Clarins?

Foursquare seemed perfect for us. It is location based, so we could specify exactly where to have our offer. Also remembering that this is a trial, so starting small (only with our flagship Skin Spa in Johannesburg) gives us time to learn and the experience to fine tune future (maybe national) offers. We are, for instance, looking a national Foursquare special for one of our upcoming fragrance launches.

What can Foursquare users get?

Currently we offer a ‘traditional’ gift with purchase: Check into the Clarins Skin Spa, have a facial and receive a free gift worth R175.

How easy was it to setup the "special" on Foursquare.com?

Initially it was very easy – a 3 step process. The approval of the offer (and validating me as a person of ‘authority’ at Clarins) took a little longer than the 2 weeks they allow for – but nothing a few well directed tweets didn’t speed up!

How are you ensuring that you fulfil on the "special" promise in the real world? Did the Skin Spa reception look at you like you were nuts?

LOL – the whole office looked at me like I was nuts! I held a quick training session with the Beauty Therapists and showed them. It’s real simple at the end of the day! We have delivered the first lot of gifts to the spa and, dependant on the success, we can always order more...

Where do you see location going in the luxury goods industry? Any other potential applications beyond this pilot?

I think the applications for something like Foursquare are virtually unlimited, not just for cosmetics. Advertising special offers, recruitment, loyalty: it’s all right there. As mentioned earlier we are considering relying on Foursquare for a fragrance launch later on in the year.

What is your feeling on the viability of Foursquare as a social tool for friends (as opposed to its commercial application)?

I think it is just as viable as ‘recommendation tool’ as it is a ‘marketing tool’. ‘Friends’ are people I share at least one common denominator with. I trust them. I’m interested in them. Foursquare can give me recommendations, tips and suggestions left by my friends in the area I am in. Bonus! Finally I know which curry to order at my best friend's favourite Indian restaurant.

Other than that it’s awesome to follow friends check-in’s live. Often I’ve met up with mates on a Saturday for a cuppa, just because we checked into the same shopping centre... by chance.

How many "mayorships" do you have personally?
Currently I have 18 mayorships – but it fluctuates as I have VERY competitive ‘Foursqaureres’ in the area!

Ed's note: *Cough* *Geek* (Ed has 21 Mayorships and counting!)

If people want to chat further, where can they find you?
Best bet would be to find me on Twitter: @TimBritz

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