When making a purchase, a consumer has a choice between using frequent-flier miles, cash, or some combination thereof. Which will he or she choose? Another consumer has an opportunity to participate in a special program to get a free car wash after paying for a certain number of washes. What’s the best way for the car-wash owner to motivate the customer to participate?
Such questions are serious business for airlines, hotel chains, credit-card companies and other corporations that offer loyalty programs to customers. Wharton marketing professor Xavier Drze and Joseph C. Nunes of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business have spent several years studying these programs and have reached a number of conclusions as to how they can be structured to generate the most revenue for companies that offer them.
Kevin Maney of USA Today writes about Scott Jones:
His new search engine, called ChaCha, is an elaborate system that’s supposed to route most searches through human “expert” searchers. These people are employed at home (or anywhere) by ChaCha in an Amway-like structure. Experts who recruit other experts get a slice of their recruits’ earnings.
If you type “beagle” into the query box on ChaCha, you’re supposed to see an IM-like chat box pop up with a live person asking whether you’re looking for dogs, the Beagle computer worm, or Charles Darwin’s boat. (All three appear on the first page or two of Google’s results for “beagle.”) The expert is then supposed to know how to find better and deeper information about your chosen topic, so you find what you need in less time.