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Carrot Rewards app gets $1.5 million boost from Ontario government
Jul 11, 2017
 

A free app that’s all carrot, no stick — offering users loyalty points for completing quizzes and surveys about healthy living — has gotten a $1.5 million boost from the Ontario government.

The Toronto-based company behind it said “we are a nation so addicted to our phones and also incredibly addicted to our loyalty points … so why not create something much more targeted, much more efficient” and more fun than a government advertising campaign, said Andreas Souvaliotis, the CEO of Carrot Insights, in a telephone interview.

Governments typically blast out ads on television or online, “which is a bit of a blunt instrument … there’s no real ability to target populations,” he added.

The Carrot Rewards app — which already has a quarter of a million Ontarians signed up — provides information and gives users a chance to earn points by answering short surveys and builds up user profiles, and “the beauty about the app is once it knows you well, it can target you with much more specific (information),” he also said.

The points plans available include Aeroplan, Petro Points, Scene (Cineplex) and More Rewards.

None of the personal information gathered is shared, Souvaliotis said, and aggregate data will not be sold. There’s no advertising on the app.

Carrot Rewards purchases points from the plans, which it then sells to governments.

The app is already in use in British Columbia and Newfoundland/Labrador, and the federal government also jumped on board, pledging $5 million to cover the cost of the initial sign-up points and the bonus rewarded for referring friends.

The healthy messaging is provided by governments and agencies, and then behavioural scientists work to make it appealing for app users, Souvaliotis said.

Surveys and quizzes typically take less than a minute to complete.

The company makes its money on points, “and we only make money if we are making a difference, if people don’t participate … they don’t earn points and we don’t earn money,” he added.

In B.C., where Carrot Rewards has been in use for a year, “we are able to target smokers with antismoking messages instead of wasting energy targeting everybody.”

The app can also urge suburbanites to walk more, given they typically walk less than those living in urban areas.

Carrot Rewards was developed with the help of the Public Health Agency of Canada as well as health-based charities.

“This innovative digital platform is encouraging and incentivizing healthy choices, and helping to improve the overall health and well-being of people across the province,” said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon in announcing the funding.

“Features such as the loyalty program, personal goal tracking and the quizzes aim to make leading a healthier life easier and show that improving your health can be fun, too.”