Ox & Pen


Ox & Pen offers a unique twist on loyalty programs that should make Chicago residents (and independent businesses) cheer. Ox & Pen allows local businesses to participate in a shared loyalty network while customers who are part of the Ox & Pen program can earn rewards at all of the participating businesses by using the Ox & Pen iPhone and Android app. We know from our consumer research that 73% of consumers find the idea of a ‘coalition loyalty program’ like this to be appealing.

As customers spend money at independent restaurants, shops, and businesses in the Chicago area, they begin to earn points. Members can also earn points by “checking in” at local businesses, and then sharing their “check ins” via Facebook. Presumably, this feature allows businesses to gain some free advertising while Ox & Pen members get points just for being at a local small business. Once customers earn enough points by visiting participating businesses, these customers can use the Ox & Pen smartphone app to redeem these points within the Ox & Pen network.

At this point the details become a little confusing. Customers can earn different amounts of points at different businesses. For example, according to the Ox & Pen website, members who frequent Downsize Fitness Chicago will earn $1 for every dollar they spend, 5 points for checking in, and 10 points for social sharing. Across town at Geja’s Cafe (“Chicago’s most romantic restaurant”), customers can earn 2 points for every $1 spent, 5 points for checking in, and 20 points for social sharing. The rewards also differ based on the business, but all points are redeemable at all locations. This means that customers who earn points at one restaurant can redeem them at a bar across town, so long as both businesses are members of the Ox & Pen network.

Ox & Pen serves as an interesting model for other loyalty programs. For fans of Chicago’s independent restaurants, bars, and businesses, the Ox & Pen app seems like an excellent tool for helping customers find unique spots in the Windy City. For more information, visit the Ox & Pen website.