WO2007003002A1 - Rebate program - Google Patents

Rebate program Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007003002A1
WO2007003002A1 PCT/AU2006/000933 AU2006000933W WO2007003002A1 WO 2007003002 A1 WO2007003002 A1 WO 2007003002A1 AU 2006000933 W AU2006000933 W AU 2006000933W WO 2007003002 A1 WO2007003002 A1 WO 2007003002A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
consumer
unique product
product
rebate
product identifier
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2006/000933
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Peter Vizbulis
Original Assignee
Edplan Australia Pty Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2005903517 priority Critical
Priority to AU2005903517A priority patent/AU2005903517A0/en
Application filed by Edplan Australia Pty Ltd filed Critical Edplan Australia Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2007003002A1 publication Critical patent/WO2007003002A1/en

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

A method and system are disclosed to facilitate a consumer (1) of a product (10) claiming a rebate associated with a product (10). A manufacturer (400) of the product (10) associates a unique product identifier (50) with the product (10) which is then scanned by the consumer (1) and uploaded to an administration website (100) through which the redemption may be redeemed. The system allows the consumer (1) to direct redeemed points to a variety of sectors, and allows the manufacturer (400) to obtain detailed information on the purchasing behaviour of its products’ consumers.

Description

REBATE PROGRAM

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a rebate or reward system.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

This application claims priority from Australian Provisional Patent Application No.

2005903517, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Modern consumers have come to expect to receive rewards and recognition from the businesses and brands that they support. The multitude of rebate or rewards programs in operation, such as points-based accumulation, frequent flyer miles and petrol discounts support consumers' demands for additional value from their purchases in excess of the transactional values.

An important aspect to manufacturers building long-term loyalty and hence brand value, is to know who are the brand's best consumers and to reward those consumers appropriately for their support. Generally, manufacturers' rebate offers treat all customers in the same way. For example, the consumer who purchases a large number of units of a product annually, is treated (price-wise) the same as the consumer who buys just 2 or 3 units per year.

Known coupons (or vouchers) are predominantly paper-based. The coupons are usually pre-printed and distributed through magazines, newspapers, inserts, mail- drops or in-store. Alternatively, the coupons are available electronically and are selected and printed by consumers using their personal computers or through kiosk based systems.

Known coupons are usually redeemed by presentation at a retail outlet e.g. supermarket, clothing chain, etc. The manufacturer is totally dependent on the retailer to deliver the rebate to the consumer. Furthermore, in almost all cases once the consumer purchases the product and leaves the retail outlet, there is no real connection between the brand and the consumer. Indeed, in most instances, consumers believe discounts they receive are provided by the retail outlets where the purchases took place, and not the manufacturers. This builds goodwill and loyalty for the retailer and not the manufacturer.

With known rebate systems, the consumer may purchase at a time when the coupon is not available (i.e. it has been misplaced or left at home) or the retail outlet may not be part of a current rebate offer.

In many cases, due to the commercial requirements of retailers, product rebate offers are available exclusively through single retail chain (Coles or Woolworths, etc.), rather than universally through any and all retail outlets. This can lead to geographic and demographic limitations to a brand's market reach. Additionally, due to factors such as warehouse and store shelf space constraints, limits are applied which restrict the number of units that can be purchased under certain rebate promotions.

Current rebate promotions also generally exist for a limited timeframe. Expiry of one promotion means that the entire process needs to be repeated. It is expensive and time consuming to formulate offers, print and distribute the coupons and advertise the promotion. The time taken to launch a rebate program limits manufacturers' ability to respond in rapid time to market changes, competitors' price drops, new product introductions. In addition to this, different markets, both domestically and internationally, have different marketing needs to suit local requirements, regulations and social customs. This can lead to a multitude of campaigns for a single brand running simultaneously across many markets.

Accordingly there is a need for a rebate program which better connects the manufacturer of products with consumers, particularly where manufacturers want to reward their consumers in proportion to the consumers' loyalty or to encourage new users to its products.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus to address at least one of the problems associated with the prior art discussed above.

The invention will be generally discussed in relation to rebates for use in connection with website redemption however it is not necessarily so restricted and rebates may be redeemed by other means.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a method for facilitating the redemption of a rebate to a consumer of a product, the method comprising: generating a unique product identifier for association with the product; providing a means for the consumer to capture the unique product identifier associated with the product; and providing a means to allow the consumer to upload the captured unique product identifier to a website for use in providing a rebate to the consumer.

In one form, the unique product identifier is a barcode.

In another form, the unique product identifier is an optical character recognition (OCR) label.

In yet a further form, the unique product identifier is a radio frequency identifier (RFID).

In one aspect, the unique product identifier comprises information relating to any one or more of manufacturer information, information relating to the product, country of manufacture and year of manufacture. In one form, the capture of the unique product identifier is by scanning.

Optionally, the rebate provided to the consumer can be varied.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for a consumer to redeem a rebate on a product; the method comprising: capturing a unique product identification code; and uploading the captured unique product identification code onto a website for redeeming the rebate.

In one form, the unique product identifier is captured using a scanner.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for facilitating the redemption of a rebate by a consumer of a product, the system comprising: a unique product identifier associated with the product; a scanner to allow the consumer to scan the unique product identifier; and an interface to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier onto a website for use in redeeming the rebate.

In one form, the unique product identifier is a barcode.

In another form, the unique product identifier is an optical character recognition (OCR) label.

In yet another form, the unique product identifier is a radio frequency identifier (RFID). In one aspect, the unique product identifier comprises information relating to any one or more of manufacturer information, information relating to the product, country of manufacture and year of manufacture.

In another form, the scanner is a portable scanning device.

In one form, the system further comprises a means to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier to a website.

Optionally, the rebate provided by the manufacturer of the products can vary.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for facilitating the redemption of a rebate by a consumer of a product purchased from a retail store, the system comprising: a unique product identifier associated with the product; a scanner to allow the consumer to scan the unique product identifier; and an interface to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier onto a website for use in redeeming the rebate; wherein the redemption of the rebate by the consumer is independent of the retail store.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of advertising a product to a consumer, the method comprising: defining a group comprising of at least one primary member and at least one secondary member; determining that at least one of the primary member of secondary member has an interest in the product; displaying an advertisement for the product to the at least one of the primary member or the secondary member; and displaying a related advertisement to the other of the at least one primary member or the secondary member.

In one form, the related advertisement is the same as the advertisement. In another form, the related advertisement is different to the advertisement.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for carrying out the method according to the fifth aspect.

Throughout this specification and the claims that follow unless the context requires otherwise, the words 'comprise' and 'include' and variations such as 'comprising' and 'including' will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.

The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgment or any form of suggestion that such prior art forms part of the common general knowledge.

Specific embodiments of the invention will now be described in some further detail with reference to and as illustrated in the accompanying Figures. These embodiments are illustrative, and not meant to be restrictive of the scope of the invention. Suggestions and descriptions of other embodiments may be included within the scope of the invention but they may not be illustrated in the accompanying Figures or alternatively features of the invention may be shown in the Figures but not described in the specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows elements in a system of one form of the present invention; Figure 2 shows examples of the application of the unique product identifiers to a variety of products; Figures 3A to 3F show examples of different product identifier formats that may be used;

Figure 4 shows the interaction between the consumer and the Administrator via an interface website; Figure 5 shows a screen displayed to a user accessing the interface website;

Figure 6A shows member details for a primary and secondary member subscribed to the system;

Figure 6B shows member details for two further secondary members subscribed to the system; Figure 7 shows a webpage giving the user a number of points management options;

Figure 8 shows a webpage allowing selective allocation of earned points to different sectors;

Figure 9 shows a webpage allowing redemption of earned points;

Figure 10 shows a webpage allowing the user to upload earned points; Figure 11 shows a message displayed to the user during the upload process;

Figure 12 shows a webpage displaying to the user details relating to the earned points;

Figures 13A and 13B show different possible code scanning devices for use in the present invention; Figure 14 shows the interaction between the manufacturer and the Administrator via an interface website;

Figure 15 shows a webpage displayed to a secondary member;

Figure 16 shows a further webpage providing a questionnaire;

Figure 17 shows a further webpage with a further questionnaire; Figure 18 shows a webpage displaying an advertising action in response to the questionnaire;

Figure 19 shows a webpage displayed to a primary member; and

Figure 20 shows a webpage displaying an advertising action to the primary member related to the advertising action for the secondary member. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Aspects of the present invention will now be described in detail with an emphasis on the application of the invention in relation to products as an illustrative form. It will however, be understood that the various aspects of the invention can equally be applied to services, service providers and consumers of services, and/ or any combination of these, and is not to be restricted to application to products only. Furthermore, reference to unique product identifiers equally applies to unique service identifiers.

It will also be understood that the terms 'users' and 'consumers' will be used interchangeably and may include the purchaser of the product itself, the user of the system and/ or the target market of the manufacturers or service providers.

Referring to Figure 1, there is shown a diagram illustrating the elements in the system according to one form of the present invention. The system is administered by an Administrator 200 who facilitates interaction between a product manufacturer (and/ or service provider) ('the manufacturer') 400 and a product (and/ or service) consumer ('the consumer') 1.

A participating manufacturer 400 provides at least one product 10 having an associated rebate. The Administrator issues the manufacturer 400 with a series of unique product identifiers 50 that are formulated using any suitable methods or algorithms. In another form, the manufacturer 400 may generate their own codes for use in the system.

One unique product identifier is associated with or assigned to each individual unit of product 10 produced by the manufacturer 400. A unit can be a single bottle, tub, can or packet, or a carton containing multiple single units, e.g. a twelve-pack of soft drink cans. It will be understood that the invention is not limited to the type of product used in the rebate program. According to an aspect of the present invention, the consumer 1 is able to enter a retail outlet (not shown), for example a grocery store, and purchase a range of goods, including product 10. When at home, consumer 1 is then able to scan product identifier 50 with a scanning device 60, and upload the scanned product identifier via computer 900 onto a website 100, administered by Administrator 200. While this particular embodiment indicates that the Administrator 200 controls the implementation of the system, it will be understood that other parties may control the system or parts of the system.

Alternatively, consumer 1 may transfer the unique product identifier manually if the identifier is structured to allow that. Of course, if the unique product identifier is an OCR or RFID, then the appropriate capture means may suitably be used.

As part of Administrator 200's involvement in the system, Administrator 200 can provide to consumer 1, the actual data capture means 60. This may be in the form of a piece of hardware such as an actual scanner 60 or may be a piece of software 70 which the user 1 may then download onto his mobile phone (or other device) which itself may then become the scanner 60, as would be understood by the person skilled in the art and discussed in more detail below.

The Administrator may also provide the means for uploading the captured unique product identifier 50 to its website 100. This may be in the form of a scanner reader, or may be part of the standard equipment of a computer such as a data input port, Blue Tooth receiver, IR port or any other suitable type of interface 80.

As part of the uploading procedure, consumer 1 would log on to the website 100 of the Administrator 200. This page 100 also allows the. consumer to join the rebate program, and check personal details such as current rebate points and/ or cash values of rebates as will be described in more detail below. In one form of the invention, Administrator 200 also liaises with the manufacturer 400, who produces the products and applies or otherwise associates unique product identifier 50 with each of its products 10.

Webpage 300 is the interface between the Administrator 200 and the manufacturer 400, and allows the manufacturers to join the program, retrieve distributed unique product identifiers 50 and check various details such as the number of products sold under the program and purchased by which customers.

The unique product identifiers 50 can be in various formats such as barcodes, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) labels, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, etc. In one embodiment, the unique product identifiers are barcodes affixed to products 10 in a manner preferred by the manufacturer 400. For example the barcodes can be printed directly on product packaging, affixed as labels, inserted inside packaging or placed under labels currently affixed to packaging, e.g. under labels on soft drink bottles. Figure 2 shows a range of products having a barcode identifier associated. In particular Figure 2 shows a canned product 10 with a label 11, having product identifier 50 in barcode form. Bottle 20 has label 11 with product identifier 50 provided in barcode form, this time on the inside of the label. Box 30 has a card 12 having printed on it the product identifier 50. In this case, card 12 is packed within box 30. Other forms of labels that may be used include split labels in which a tear-off portion reveals the identifier, or labels or other aspect of packaging or even on the goods themselves, could have integrated therein, the code. For example an RFID chip could be integrated within a label, or a microdot identifier could be incorporated into the product itself. Some of these arrangements help to provide security to the system as will be discussed in more detail below.

In the case of the product being a service (for example a subscription to a magazine, television service or internet service), the identifier 50 may appear on the invoice or receipt provided upon delivery of or payment for, that service. As described above, the unique product identifier 50 may take many forms as shown in Figures 3A to 3F. Figure 3A shows an exemplary barcode, which is a machine- readable representation of information in a visual format on a surface. Barcodes can store data in the widths and spacings of printed parallel lines, but they may also come in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and hidden in images as will be understood by the person skilled in the art. In the example shown in Figure 3 A, an alphanumeric sequence may optionally also be provided with the barcode to facilitate the consumer entering the unique identifier into a computer for example, via a keyboard, rather than scanning the identifier directly.

Figure 3B shows another form of data encoding, in which the data appears as a series of light and dark blocks, known as a datamatrix. An example of a datamatrix code is as provided under the trade mark "Semacode". Again, a corresponding alphanumeric sequence may also be provided to facilitate manual input of the identifier.

Figure 3C shows an exemplary microdot code in which data is encoded on a particle as will be understood by the person skilled in the art. These appropriately encoded particles can be applied to a label, packaging or to the product itself by a variety of ways, so as to uniquely identify the product.

Figure 3D shows a colour-coded arrangement such as those provided under the trade mark Visidot ™ by ImageID Ltd.

Figure 3E shows a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) label which emits either actively or passively, a radio frequency signal coded to encode required identification data.

Figure 3F shows a standard alphanumeric code encoding the required data. Other forms of code that could be used for the unique product identifier include various forms of 1-dimensional codes such as UPQ ISBN, code 3 of 9, code 128 and interleaved 2 of 5. The codes may also be in the form of 2-dimensional code formats such as Datamatrix, QR codes and EZcode, developed specifically for use with camera phones.

It will also be understood that the code could be a holographic code and may be read by suitable holographic scanning devices.

Each of the above identification technologies are well known as is their formation, application and reading, as will be understood by the person skilled in the art. It will be understood that these are illustrative examples only of the types of identification technology that could be used in relation to the present invention, however, any other suitable form may also be used and the invention is not to be limited to those specifically shown herein.

As an illustrative example only, the following is described with reference to a barcode technology. As well as providing a unique item code, each barcode can also include information describing manufacturer specific details such as product line information, e.g. name of product, contents, or ingredients of the product, etc., or country and year of manufacture of the product. It will be understood that the type or amount of information contained within the information that makes up the barcode is not limited by these examples and may include any information as required.

The inclusion of country of manufacture or year of manufacture detail into the barcode enables use of the same set of unique product identifiers to be used in different markets. When combined with the other details such as country or year of manufacture the identifiers effectively form a new set of product identifiers. As an example, the barcode may use 128 bit symbology (typically referred to as Code 128) with alpha characters. The Table below illustrates the number of combinations of unique product identifiers available with the use of such symbology:

Table 1: The formation of unique product identifiers using barcodes.

Figure imgf000014_0001

If required, where existing unique product identifier limits are exceeded (i.e. there are more products than identifiers), additional series of identifiers can be formulated by simply utilizing extra digits.

The identifier may also include check sum digits for security and verification to reduce the likelihood of fraudulent generation of the identifier. Once every identifier is associated with a product, the participating manufacturer submits a register of the uniquely identified product units into a rebate program database 201 (see Figure 1) which in one form of the invention is provided by and administered by the Administrator 200. Alternatively, as shown in Figure 1, each manufacturer may administer its own database which may be accessed by administrator 200. Database 201 is used to provide rebates to the consumer 1 who indicates that he has purchased a product having a specific identifier. In one form of the invention, rebates are calculated by cross-referencing the scanned data uploaded by the consumer to the unique product identifier units listed in the database.

In one form of the invention, Administrator 200 may generate the unique product identifiers for the manufacturer 400 perhaps in accordance with specific data structures requested by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer 400 may generate its own unique product identifiers, perhaps in accordance with specific data structures requested by the Administrator 200.

Alternatively, a third party may generate the unique product identifiers and distribute them to the Administrator 200 for subsequent delivery to the manufacturer 400, or may provide the unique product identifier directly to the manufacturer 400, or a combination of both.

The unique barcodes associated with the products mean that all retail outlets which sell that product, regardless of size or location, can be used by a consumer who wishes to partake in the rebate program. In prior arrangements a rebate offer may have been available exclusively through a single retail chain which limited the number of consumers which could receive the rebate. Furthermore, consumers in remote areas were often precluded from participating in a rebate program since the small, remote retailers were not able to or did not wish to administer the rebate program.

Consumers enrol to become members of the rebate program to receive rebates by purchasing products offered by the participating manufacturers.

Figure 4 shows in more detail the interaction between user 1 and Administrator 200 via interface website 100. User 1 may interact with the website 100 to upload collected unique product identifiers 50 via input device 80 (as described above). In one form, the user 1 can also download suitable software 70 for use in a scanning device as described in more detail below.

As part of the membership application, consumers may provide general contact information, for example, name, address, telephone number and/ or email address. Consumers also have the option to provide additional information in order to receive rebate offers customised to suit their personal situations. Optional information can include information such as age, occupation, income, children's ages, educational qualifications, etc. The manufacturer may offer additional or improved rebates based on this information if desired.

Figure 5 shows an example of web page 101 that is presented to the user 1 upon accessing website 100. Web page 101 displays a login box 101a in which the user 1 can enter her username and password to access the system. Web page 101 may also include general information 101b on the system as well as advertising 101c of products from manufacturers that are participating members of the system.

Consumer members can also enrol secondary members, under a single primary membership, e.g. family members, friends, work colleagues. Rebates received following purchases of participating products can then be aggregated into a single account. This aggregation maximises the rebates for families and groups who support their favourite brands. Consumer members can also opt to receive information regarding special offers available from participating manufacturers.

Figure 6A shows a webpage 102 displaying member details for a primary member (in this case the father of a family of four) and member details for a secondary member (in this case the mother of the family). Figure 6B shows member details for further secondary members in the same group. In this case, these further secondary members are the two children of the family.

Consumers can enrol in the rebate program through the program website, by telephoning the customer service centre (provided by the Administrator), or by mailing a completed membership application to the host. Upon enrolment, consumer members receive a username and password to allow access to secure sections of the program website, where they can manage their accounts, e.g. add or subtract secondary members, request redemptions or transfer redemptions to other accounts, etc. Figure 7 shows webpage 103 which is presented to the user 1 upon entering the website 100. Webpage 103 may include a section 103a displaying a Reward Point Summary summarising the points earned through the system, and an Options section 103b providing a list of available options to manage the user's points.

Optionally, the webpage may also include further advertisements 103c advertising products or services from manufacturers or service providers that are members of the system.

In one form of the invention, the user 1 may elect how his points earned are distributed for redemption by selecting the "Setup Reward Redemption" option in block 103b. This will take the user to webpage 104 shown in Figure 8, which allows the user 1 to allocate earned points to different sectors, such as Education, Retirement, Investment, Health Insurance or Other, as may be specified by the user 1.

From webpage 103 (see Figure 7) the user 1 may also elect to redeem points earned, by selecting the "Redeem Your Rewards" option. This will take the user 1 to webpage 105 as shown in Figure 9. The user 1 may then redeem rewards allocated to a preselected sector (as described above). In the example shown in Figure 9, the user 1, who has elected that 30% of his earned points be allocated to "Education", may redeem these points. In this case, the user has earned $500 worth of points in the Education sector and has elected to redeem these points. Upon redemption, a payment of $500 is made to the user's selected institution, which may be a child's school or other educational body as selected by the user 1.

In one form of the invention, this institution may be a member of the system of the present invention and the payment may be made to the institution's member account. In another form however, the institution need not be a member and a payment may be made to the institution by conventional means such as a cheque payment made by the Administrator 200. Another option provided to the user 1 at webpage 103 (see Figure 7) is the option of earning rewards by uploading the unique product identifiers 50 of products or services purchased. Upon selecting the "Earn Rewards" option at 103b, the user is taken to webpage 106 as shown in Figure 10. Webpage 106 may display instructionslOόa guiding the user 1 to upload the acquired unique product identifiers 50. This may be done manually, i.e. by the user 1 manually entering codes via a keyboard for example, the unique product identifier 50 if it is of a suitable form such as an alphanumeric sequence as previously shown in Figure 3F. This may be entered in box 106b.

Again, the website may display advertisements 106d of products from participating manufacturers .

Alternatively, the user 1 may elect to automatically upload the acquired unique product identifiers by following the instructions given in block 106a and selecting the "Upload Barcodes" option 106c. During the uploading process, the user will be presented with a display as shown on Figure 11, informing the user 1 that the uploading process is occurring.

Upon completion of the uploading process, webpage 107 (see Figure 12) displays the products associated with the uploaded unique product identifiers 50 and may display additional details such as the store from which the products were purchased. The webpage 107 will also display the associated reward value. In one form, the reward value is an actual monetary reward value, however, in other forms, other reward systems such as points systems may be used.

In one form of the invention, member users 1 may be provided with a means to scan the unique product identifiers, in this case barcodes, associated with a manufacturer's products. Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers or scanned from an image by special software. The scanning means of the present invention can be a self-contained scanning device such as barcode reader. If other identifiers are used then the appropriate scanning means will be provided to the consumer by the host. For example, an OCR reader, an RFID scanner, or software which can be loaded into portable communication devices, e.g. a mobile phone, to enable the devices to scan the unique product identifiers 50.

Of course the appropriate scanning and uploading equipment and software may be provided by the user 1 himself, as these are freely available.

Figure 13A shows a commercially available personal scanner 61 which may be used in the present invention. The scanner shown is a CS 1504 Consumer memory Scanner, provided by US company Symbol Technologies, Inc. This device allows the user 1 to scan a barcode simply by pointing the device at the barcode and pressing the button. Up to 150 barcodes are able to be stored, and uploaded to a computer or other device at will. Uploading can be done using a cable connection. Other devices available on the market are also provided by US company Microvision, Inc. including the HS 2122-97 and HS 2142-97 readers with available software for decoding the scanned image. Other readers available on the market may also allow uploading via Infra Red (IR) or Blue Tooth connections. Figure 13A indicates that device 61 can capture a barcode as shown.

Figure 13B shows a standard modern cellular telephone handset 62 equipped with an image capture means such as a digital camera. Commercially available software that can be uploaded onto the phone is available, such as that provided by European company Gavitec AG, under the trade mark 'Lavasphere'. This software turns the phone 62 into an image scanner and be able to read 2-dimensional codes such as those referred to in Figures 3A to 3B. The scanned and stored codes can then be downloaded to a computer or other device via cable, IR, Blue Tooth or any other suitable means as provided by the phone and as will be understood by the person skilled in the art.

The scanning device 60 used in one form of the present invention is portable. Units can be scanned one-at-a-time, or in a group, with the data stored in the scanning device for transfer to the host at a later time. In another form of the invention, users without personal computers can redeem rebates using kiosks fitted with scanners which provide internet access. Such kiosks may be conveniently situated in shopping malls, etc.

The ability for members to redeem rebates through 'do-it-yourself (DIY) scanning enables the consumer or user 1 to scan products at a time and place that is convenient to the user 1. Furthermore, the data that is collected is accurate since the user 1 is not necessarily required to manually enter digits into a form (hard-copy or electronic form).

According to a further aspect of the present invention, there are provided various mechanisms to reduce the instance of fraud in the system.

The consumer details (e.g. name, address, telephone number) provided during enrolment may be used to contact the consumer if fraudulent use of the rebate program is detected. For example, if barcodes are scanned by the one member and are subsequently scanned by another member. Such fraudulent scanning may occur where barcodes are scanned, but products are not purchased, or empty products are scanned once discarded. If a barcode is scanned by different users then proof of purchase may be required in order for the eligible party to receive the rebate. If one member continues to cause a problem in the rebate program (i.e. the member is often the subject of fraudulent use investigations), then he will be rejected from the program. In some cases, barcodes may be inadvertently scanned twice by the same consumer or user 1. In that case the Administrator 200 will detect the duplicate scan and delete the duplicate from the data received.

Preferably the rebate program is coordinated or facilitated by a website provided by the Administrator 200. The website is secure and may only be accessible to manufacturers and consumers via an individual username and password, issued by the host.

Figure 14 shows in more detail the interaction between the manufacturer 400 and the system Administrator 200, via interface webpage 300.

A manufacturer 400 may use the website to manage the products which form part of the rebate program. Every product, in every product size in a manufacturer's range can have a different rebate value assigned. Variations can apply to different international markets. The manufacturer may specify a rebate cash value which will apply to consumers' purchases of their products. For example, 50 cents for a 600 gram box of breakfast cereal; $1.50 for a carton containing 24 cans of soft drink.

In one form of the invention, this rebate information (e.g. value, product lines) is uploaded to the Administrator website by the manufacturer 400 via personal interface webpage 300. It will be understood that each manufacturer 400, 400', 400", may have a personal, secure webpage interface, 300, 300', 300" respectively. The rebates on offer can then be viewed by the consumer or user 1 if desired, in an area of the website designed for such an operation. Furthermore, the website allows the manufacturer 400 to track consumer product purchases. The manufacturer is made aware, via the website, of which consumers or users 1 are the best consumers, i.e., which consumers are spending the most money on a particular brand. Once these consumers have been identified, they can be rewarded for their support by providing larger rebates on further purchases. In effect this permits the manufacturer to treat individual consumers differently depending upon their purchasing habits.

The website also allows a manufacturer 400 to identify consumers or users 1 who are not purchasing particular products in their range. Accordingly, advertising campaigns can be tailored and targeted to groups of consumers who are not already good consumers of a product.

The rebate values associated with the identified products can be easily and readily changed by the manufacturer via the website. This means that one rebate offer need never expire, or if it does expire that other offers can follow it without delay. There is no need for the manufacturer to reissue coupons and instructions, etc. Furthermore, the manufacturers that participate in the rebate program of the present invention may conveniently alter the rebate offers in response to rapid market changes, competitor price drops or new product introductions. This can be done in both domestic and international markets simultaneously with different offers extending to each market as desired.

As discussed above, information relating to participating products, rebate offers and retail locations where products are available can be sourced and viewed by member consumers on the program website.

Rebates are marked as 'pending', subject to receipt of payment by the manufacturer members. Upon receipt of payment, the host re-classifies the status of 'pending' rebates to 'active' (or 'available'). Consumer members can request disbursements from the 'active' rebates. These disbursements may be used to make payments for educational expenses, top-up retirement accounts, help pay for health insurance, or for any other purpose as approved by the Administrator 200. By helping their customers, families and loved ones reach important life goals, participating manufactures build emotional bonds with consumers, leading to stronger, longer loyalty and greater consumer lifetime value. The direct interaction between the consumer and the manufacturer reinforces a connection with the brand, goodwill and loyalty directly with the manufacturer. This is an improvement over prior arrangements of rebate programs where, in most instances, the consumer believes the rebate was provided by the retailer of products rather than the manufacturer of the products.

It is noted however that in some forms of the present invention, the retailer may be involved in the rebate program (e.g. through promotion or advertising) if the manufacturer prefers. However, by eliminating the retailer, the manufacturer is not dependent upon the retailer to deliver the rebate to the consumer, nor is the manufacturer dependent upon the retailer providing information relating to sales.

The rebates provided are electronic and accordingly no paper or printing is required in order to receive the rebate. This is more convenient to the consumer and the manufacturer and more environmentally friendly since fewer resources (e.g. paper) are consumed.

Furthermore, the rebates provided by the present arrangement are available whether or not the consumer or user 1 has evidence of her eligibility to receive the rebate. This is an improvement over prior arrangements which require that the consumer or user make the purchase at a time when the relevant and valid coupon is available. The rebates in the present arrangement are also available and the redemption is facilitated by the website described.

In another form of the invention, the user 1 interface website may provide another advantage. As described above in relation to Figures 6A and 6B, a group of consumers or users 1 can be defined. In the example given, the group is a family of four, with one father, one mother, one son and one daughter. Having defined a group, it is possible for the data collected from the scanned data, and/ or data obtained from questionnaires within the website, to mix or distribute actions such as advertising, between the members of the group.

For example, if the son, Josh, logs in to the website interface 100 to reach webpage 108 as shown in Figure 15. At predetermined or random instances, Josh may be presented with a questionnaire to complete. As an incentive to complete the survey, an offer of a prize may be made. The questionnaire is designed to provide information that can be used by the manufacturers 400 that are members of the system to better target their consumers, or for other marketing or statistical uses. An example questionnaire is shown on Figure 16 showing webpage 109. Figure 17 shows a subsequent webpage 110 which may be presented to Josh in response to one or more of his answers, to more specifically target the information sought. In this example, Josh is asked which game console tops his wish list, to which josh replies "xbox 360".

, As Josh proceeds as normal through the website 100, or perhaps when Josh next logs into the website, he may be presented with webpage 111, which includes an advertisement Ilia promoting the xbox 360 game console is displayed to encourage Josh to purchase his wished-for item. Figure 18 shows an example of such an advertisement.

According to this aspect of the present invention, this information may be shared or distributed to other members of the same group. Figure 19 shows a webpage 112 displayed as the father, Allan, logs in to the website. Once logged in, the next webpage 113 presented (see Figure 20) to Allan includes an advertisement 113a for the same product. This will reinforce the exposure of this product desired by his son. The advert may also be accompanied by a message that is different to the message displayed to Josh, and may be more tailored to Allan. Or may be the same as that displayed to Josh. In another form, the advertisement need not be displayed to Josh at all, but only to Allan.

It will be understood that a group may be defined in any way desired. For example, a group may consist of members of a family, immediate or extended, a group of friends, members of a sporting club, or individuals linked by some other element of commonality. This sharing and distribution of data between members of a group can provide a very powerful advertising medium for manufacturers 400 and/ or service providers.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the invention is not restricted in its use to the particular application described. Neither is the present invention restricted in its preferred embodiment with regard to the particular elements and/ or features described or depicted herein. It will be appreciated that various modifications can be made without departing from the principles of the invention. Therefore, the invention should be understood to include all such modifications within its scope.

Claims

THE CLAIMS DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. A method for facilitating the redemption of a rebate to a consumer of a product, the method comprising: generating a unique product identifier for association with the product; providing a means for the consumer to capture the unique product identifier associated with the product; and providing a means to allow the consumer to upload the captured unique product identifier to a website for use in providing a rebate to the consumer.
2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the unique product identifier is a barcode.
3. A method according to claim 1 wherein the unique product identifier is an optical character recognition (OCR) label.
4. A method according to claim 1 wherein the unique product identifier is a radio frequency identifier (RFID).
5. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the unique product identifier comprises information relating to any one or more of manufacturer information, information relating to the product, country of manufacture and year of manufacture.
6. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein the capture of the unique product identifier is by scanning.
7. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the rebate provided to the consumer can be varied.
8. A method for a consumer to redeem a rebate on a product; the method comprising: capturing a unique product identification code; and uploading the captured unique product identification code onto a website for redeeming the rebate.
9. A method according to claim 9 wherein the unique product identifier is captured using a scanner.
10. A system for facilitating the redemption of a rebate by a consumer of a product, the system comprising: a unique product identifier associated with the product; a scanner to allow the consumer to scan the unique product identifier; and an interface to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier onto a website for use in redeeming the rebate.
11. A system according to claim 10 wherein the unique product identifier is a barcode.
12. A system according to claim 10 wherein the unique product identifier is an optical character recognition (OCR) label.
13. A system according to claim 10 wherein the unique product identifier is a radio frequency identifier (RFID).
14. A system according to any one of claims 10 to 13 wherein the unique product identifier comprises information relating to any one or more of manufacturer information, information relating to the product, country of manufacture and year of manufacture.
15. A system according to any one of claims 10 to 14 wherein the scanner is a portable scanning device.
16. A system according to any one of claims 10 to 15 further comprising a means to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier to a website.
17. A system according to any one of claims 10 to 15 wherein the rebate provided by the manufacturer of the products can vary.
18. A system for facilitating the redemption of a rebate by a consumer of a product purchased from a retail store, the system comprising: a unique product identifier associated with the product; a scanner to allow the consumer to scan the unique product identifier; and an interface to allow the consumer to upload the scanned unique product identifier onto a website for use in redeeming the rebate; wherein the redemption of the rebate by the consumer is independent of the retail store.
19. A method of advertising a product to a consumer, the method comprising: defining a group comprising of at least one primary member and at least one secondary member; determining that at least one of the primary member of secondary member has an interest in the product; displaying an advertisement for the product to the at least one of the primary member or the secondary member; and displaying a related advertisement to the other of the at least one primary member or the secondary member.
20. A method according to claim 19 wherein the related advertisement is the same as the advertisement.
21. A method according to claim 19 wherein the related advertisement is different to the advertisement.
22. A system for carrying out the method according to any one of claims 19 to 21.
PCT/AU2006/000933 2005-07-04 2006-07-04 Rebate program WO2007003002A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU2005903517 2005-07-04
AU2005903517A AU2005903517A0 (en) 2005-07-04 Rebate program

Publications (1)

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WO2007003002A1 true WO2007003002A1 (en) 2007-01-11

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Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
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US20020065717A1 (en) * 1999-04-22 2002-05-30 Miller Michael Robert System, method and article of manufacture for commoditizing the delivery of promotions
WO2002054298A1 (en) * 2000-12-29 2002-07-11 Nokia Corporation Method and system for marketing of product and a reward function
US20020198788A1 (en) * 2001-06-20 2002-12-26 International Business Machines Corporation System and method for product evaluation
US20030024981A1 (en) * 2001-08-01 2003-02-06 Sangeetha Narasimhan Automated coupon solution

Patent Citations (5)

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20020065717A1 (en) * 1999-04-22 2002-05-30 Miller Michael Robert System, method and article of manufacture for commoditizing the delivery of promotions
US20020056745A1 (en) * 2000-06-20 2002-05-16 De La Fuente Claudio Oscar Electronic product identification system for automatic participation and interaction of users on the internet and other electronic or mechanical marketing, diffusion, advertising promotion and/or purchase incentive programs
WO2002054298A1 (en) * 2000-12-29 2002-07-11 Nokia Corporation Method and system for marketing of product and a reward function
US20020198788A1 (en) * 2001-06-20 2002-12-26 International Business Machines Corporation System and method for product evaluation
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