Giant Thinks AR-Games Are Ripe for Grocery Aisles 

By Tom Ryan

Giant Food Stores has introduced an augmented reality (AR) promotion, Snowflake Search, designed to send kids on scavenger hunts in stores while their parents shop.

To play, customers scan a QR code on special in-store signage with their smartphones. An audio introduction by a snowman directs users to search for six unique snowflake signs throughout the store. Each snowflake triggers an interactive character on the phone, like a polar bear juggling clementines and bananas in the fruit section. Customers track the characters and receive clues to find the remaining ones.

Members of Giant Choice Rewards earn 50 points for each character found, with the ability to earn a total of up to 300 points each time they play. Under the rewards program, 300 points can be redeemed for $3.00 in savings.

Rewards members can redeem up to 1,500 points with a limit of five games until the promotion ends January 30. The game will be featured in 15 Harrisburg, PA-area stores.

Giant said that, while other retailers are using AR to provide product information, Snowflake Search is designed to “add fun to an everyday task” and occupy kids’ attention. Giant believes it’s the first U.S. grocery retailer to use AR in this capacity.

The popularity of Pokémon GO and Snapchat’s AR lenses has not brought AR-gamification to retail as fast as some predicted, but some other examples include:

  • One Stop, the U.K-based c-store owned by Tesco, in October launched a “Find Eddy the Elf” app to encourage customers to visit stores through Christmas and virtually find hidden “Helfers” characters to unlock prizes.
  • Tillys, the action sports chain, this past Halloween launched a game encouraging customers to scan in-store codes, fight zombies as they pop up on their screens and earn prizes.
  • 7-Eleven partnered with Dr Pepper on a “Field Goal Challenge” last fall to kick off the football season. Players used their smartphones to anchor a football player in a 7-Eleven-branded uniform and virtually kick a football between goal posts.
  • Nike has partnered with Foot Locker and local urban shops on scavenger hunts that send sneakerheads to geotargeted locations to unlock access to limited-edition sneakers.

Discussion Questions:

Will AR-driven, in-store scavenger hunts drive more engagement or disruption at the store level? Has your opinion of the potential of AR-gamification at retail improved or worsened since Pokémon GO became a global phenomenon in 2016?

Comments from the RetailWire BrainTrust:

Adding fun and entertainment to the grocery shopping experience is a good way to encourage customer loyalty. And anything that makes it a little easier for parents to keep kids entertained while shopping is definitely a plus. It is interesting that the Pokemon Go phenomenon has not translated to retail as much as many predicted, but Giant is targeting the same demographic as Pokemon Go which should prove to be successful for the grocer.
Kathleen Fischer, Director of Retail Marketing, enVista

Grocers are feeling the pressure since shoppers have forgone full shops. Sure, they’re dropping in to pick up whatever ingredient they’re missing for dinner tonight, but relying on Amazon (or Walmart) for staples. This is seems like an attempt to get them to move, with intention, throughout the store and buy more. Will the strategy actually increase sales? Will this draw shoppers in who’d otherwise shop elsewhere? Will it enhance existing shoppers’ experience? I’m not so convinced that AR-gamification at retail is there yet.
Heidi Sax, Content Marketing Manager, CB4

Nice idea especially with the rewards, but the implementation opens some concerns. If kids are supposed to scavenger hunt without parents, I think there’s an issue. If they’re supposed to stay with parents and nag them to run them through the store to find every QR, that’s burdensome. If parents are supposed to put their kids to work to earn three bucks, there won’t be much incentive for non-Giant customers to try the stores.

Kudos for the initiative, but this effort needs iteration ASAP.
Ken Lonyai, Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist

Let’s be serious. This sounds like an excuse for parents who can’t or won’t control their children in grocery stores. How about an app to improve parenting skills?
John Karolefski, Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

While giving kids a game to play while in the store is fun for the kids, I don’t see this game driving new traffic to Giant stores. So the question then becomes, what is the real business value of the game to justify the development and deployment investments, plus the (not insignificant) discounts for the parents? The article does not indicate how the adventure benefits Giant beyond encouraging shoppers to travel throughout the entire store. Are the game rewards targeted and personalized, and thus designed to encourage shopping behaviors that increase average transaction size or transaction margins? Without those meaningful business benefits in return for the investment in the game, I am not convinced this will be a winning project.
Dave Bruno, Director, Retail Market Insights

Read the entire story and RetailWire discussion at

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                                                                         Early January 2020
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