November 1, 2001, 12:00 AM

Buying teen loyalty online with e-cash

Coca Cola Co.’s purchase of RocketCash was a smart way to get teens to come to the Sprite.com and buy from the merchants there, analysts say.

Loyalty can’t start too early–especially when a sizeable chunk of your market is teens. That’s why Coca-Cola Co.’s acquisition in October of online alternative cash provider RocketCash makes sense, analysts say.

RocketCash has managed an online cash program for Sprite.com since last year, giving teens a way to shop online. The program gives away RocketCash under Sprite bottle caps-¯online currency they can use at 100 participating online retailers. The acquisition of RocketCash will expand the rewards program.

“This is the next incarnation of supermarkets giving stamps to promote loyalty,” says Keith Waryas, consumer e-commerce core research manger at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. The new twist is that RocketCash’s proprietary payment mechanism takes rewards online to a market-teens-that doesn’t have a lot of ability to pay online. But the program’s greater value is in its ability to strengthen teen loyalty and to increase sales of Sprite, Waryas says. “They do the same thing with bottle tops-you turn it over and you win free Cokes or $100. Most are losers, but even so, RocketCash can create loyalty and keep people buying,” he says.

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