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Duane Reade tries in-store mobile gaming to drive foot traffic

Walgreens-owned Duane Reade is building up its mobile and social presence by partnering with Google’s augmented reality application Ingress on an initiative that marries the physical and virtual worlds.

Duane Reade is the first retailer to partner with Google’s Niantic Labs’ mobile game Ingress. Ingress is only currently available in beta mode, but consumers can request an invite at

“As for Duane Reade, this is an effort not just to increase our digital footprint, but we will look for this effort to lead into programs where we can uniquely deliver our customers product specials, offers, exclusive information on initiatives, etc. directly through the in-game experience,” said Calvin Peters, public relations and communication manager at Duane Reade, New York.

In-store gaming
Ingress is a mobile game that claims to marry the physical and virtual worlds for players.

Once a consumer is invited to join, they can download the Ingress application from Google Play to start playing the game.

The game centers around a group of scientists who uncover an energy power called Exotic Matter. Players then pick a side to fight on – either “The Resistance,” which defends the power or “The Enlightened,” which embraces the power.

To play, consumers have to unlock sources of the energy by finding objects in the real world.

Duane Reade will display the game’s logo on windows, which indicate that players can use the mobile game in-store to find content, which is called an asset. All of Duane Reade’s 250 store locations are involved in the initiative.

Each asset is associated with a unique code that can only be used once and shared online. Once a user enters the code, resources such as in-game objects become available for players to use.

The goal behind the game is to get bigger groups of consumers in neighborhoods, countries and cities to work together to play, per Duane Reade.

Location-based games
Duane Reade is smart to bank on location-based services and games to drive in-store traffic.

By blurring the real and physical world, consumers have an incentive to come in-store, which can be used by marketers to drive foot traffic and sales.

In this case, Ingress functions as a type of check-in since the codes are only found in-store, which Duane Reade has been ramping up initiatives around in the past year.

Last year, Duane Reade plastered QR codes on its windows that linked users to a landing page where they could use foursquare to check-in to a location or connect with the brand on Facebook or Twitter (see story).

Then later last year, Duane Reade upped its mobile initiatives with SMS calls-to-action on pages of its static print  magazine and in-store QR codes (see story).

“This initiative will be ongoing and strategically executed in terms of program implementation, but we are definitely looking to increase basket size, store traffic as well as customer data collection to help aid in the continued enhancement of our overall customer experience through digital and social platforms,” Mr. Peters said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York