Exploring Location-Based Partnerships … With Tacos!
Partnerships are a funny thing. In life, you look for a partner to balance you out – someone who's stronger where you’re weakest. It's the same in business.
We’re watching new partnerships being created all across the credit union space, especially in the mobile banking/fintech side of things.
Recently, CO-OP Financial Services announced a partnership smartphone app called “CO-OP Locator,” which brings together two very popular items: Money and ride-sharing.
The app, first reported by our Roy Urrico (if you haven't met this guy, please do – he's seriously smart and a total New Yorker), allows users to “locate, and even request a ride share, to some 30,000 surcharge-free CO-OP ATMs and 5,600 locations.”
The idea here is an interesting one. When Roy and I discussed the story, my first reaction was muted and I kind of shrugged it off until I thought about it a bit more. Then, I realized that it was a pretty smart move, because eventually you could tie in any location-based services into the app and even create more partnerships beyond Lyft, Uber and credit unions.
Enter, Taco Bell. No really, enter it! Take a whiff.
Leave it to a corporate giant to be ahead of the game when it comes to these kinds of partnerships and seeing beyond a simple location-based partnership and changing it into that, plus a promotional vehicle (total pun).
Taco Bell has partnered with Lyft to test out a theory: Late night and possibly drunk audience + Lyft + Taco Bell = increased revenue.
For the next couple of weeks or so, in Newport Beach, Calif., only, Taco Bell is going all-in on what they call “Taco Mode.” Mmmmmm, taco mode.
Here's the low-down on this experimental partnership: Lyft passengers will be able to request rides inside the Lyft app that include a stop at a Taco Bell drive-thru between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Let's face it, if you’re out after midnight, you’re probably hungry.
In an interview with CNN, Marisa Thalberg, chief marketing officer at Taco Bell, said, “We have a feeling it's going to be a kind of thing a couple of friends taking a Lyft together, sharing a ride after a party are hungry and want to end the night in a fun, celebratory and craveable way.”
For this test partnership, about 15 Lyft vehicles will be wrapped in what can be described as a brightly-colored purple/pink/blueish 1980s throwback taco wallpaper – you really can't miss this thing driving around. Once in these “Taco Mode” Lyft vehicles, there's a tablet inside displaying the Taco Bell menu and passengers who “Taco Mode” it will receive some kind of Taco Bell souvenirs. Kind of slick actually.
Let's flash back to the CO-OP Financial Services app, which connects Uber and Lyft riders with credit union ATMs and branches. Here's what president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, Todd Clark, said about why his team is launching this app: “Research indicates the reputation of digital natives as being unconcerned with branches may be overstated. In CO-OP's recent survey of credit union members, millennials rated accessibility to branches and ATMs significantly higher than other age groups.”
Granted, not as flashy of a statement as we heard from Taco Bell, but we are a regulated financial industry. So there. But, we can see the potential for this kind of a move from CO-OP not only from a product and services perspective, but from an audience/member perspective.
On the product and services side, I think there's another partnership inside of there to connect ATMs, credit union branches and Lyft/Uber. If you look at the Taco Bell partnership, it's really like a scavenger hunt when you combine the fast-food chain and Lyft. And the same can be done with the CO-OP app. Say you create a partnership between the credit union, a local restaurant and the ride-sharing company. And within that partnership are rewards and/or giveaways and/or chances as winning something if you 1) book a ride on Lyft, 2) withdraw $10 from a “insert name of credit union” ATM and 3) go to the designated restaurant during a certain week of the year. And if you do those things (which are obviously easily trackable), your members could win!
We’re in an entirely different world of marketing, ad spend, ROI and smartphone world than we were just a couple of years ago. And partnerships like these, I believe, can solidify your credit union as an innovative, caring and crazy-fun part of your community.
Sure, Taco Bell has 800,000,000 locations* around the country. And I’m not trying to compare a corporate monolith full of empty calories to your credit union. I’m saying, partnerships can be a wonderful thing if you find the right partner who has the same end-game as your credit union. Lyft, Taco Bell and your credit union all want some of the same things. And the other can pick up the slack where you’re weakest and you can do the same for them. It's a partnership worth exploring. And maybe it's time to take that ride-sharing drive together and see where it goes. Maybe you’ll end up in “Taco Mode.”
*Editor's note: Location number is approximate. I could Google the actual number, but we all know there are a lot of Taco Bells out there and the number was simply a comedic representation of that. They are like the Starbucks of tacos. If you need to complain, please call 1 (800) 822-6235. That's the Taco Bell customer service number. You can ask them how many locations they have in the U.S.
Michael Ogden is Executive Editor at Credit Union Times. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.