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Kroger’s Food 4 Less feeds appetite for deals via augmented reality

Kroger’s Food 4 Less no-frills grocery division is leveraging an augmented reality platform with a mobile application that allows shoppers to unlock deals, price and item information from circulars, thereby making over a decades-old industry mainstay.

Users of the Causeplay-developed DigitalFood app who shop at Southern California Food 4 Less grocery stores can unlock new price and item selections plus content such as videos, music and contests via the app’s augmented reality feature. The feature points to how the proliferation of smartphones is changing how shoppers might interact with the circular, a cornerstone for food price and item information for many years.

“Grocery chains can be viewed as massive mobile publishing networks,” said Jonas Hudson, chief operating officer for Causeplay, Manhattan Beach, CA. “Millions of people shop at grocery stores on a daily basis and are always carrying the mobile handsets. 

“The natural extension in today’s mobile age is to convert the traditional marketing tactics like circulars, rebates/coupons, and other information into digital and mobile platforms for shoppers,” he said. “The opportunity goes back to the basics and that is content.”

Swiping for deals
The program seeks to make circular deals and information a swipe away.

Unlocking circular deals via mobile.

First, shoppers download the DigitalFood app on their iOS or Android device. Next, they press the scan button to open their phone camera.  By framing the image over a DigitalFood target in a circular, they can unlock new and regularly updated price information and offers. 

Brands can use the app to offer items and additional information about their products through promotions, video based messaging and content such as recipes and buy/get movies and music offers.

“AR is a compelling factor as it reduces cost of print, drives more price and item promotions for brands as the digital space is unlimited and puts the power of purchase and decision into the hands of the shopper at the point of transaction,” Mr. Hudson said.

Kroger is a standout among grocers in its pouring resources into mobile and particularly into a comprehensive mobile app that drives engagement outside of the chain’s bricks-and-mortar locations.

The app lets consumers create an account that can be used to access digital coupons, refill prescriptions and manage their fuel points at gas stations. It also includes a store locator and mobile-exclusive promotions.

As smartphones become as common as car keys, more grocers are turning to mobile applications to enhance the shopping experience.

Last month, Grocery Gateway and Longo’s teamed up with omnicommerce solution Unata to offer shoppers personalized circulars and customized deals on mobile.

Grocers can no longer afford to spend the bulk of their ad budget on print, radio and TV when those three mediums barely make up half a consumer’s media consumption. Moreover, the days of family loyalty to a store are a thing of the past as shoppers increasingly go to two or more stores to check off their lists.

Bagging groceries
Kroger’s Food 4 Less is a national warehouse store grocery chain where customers bag their own groceries at checkout. Kroger operates Food 4 Less stores in California, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. In markets where Kroger does not have the rights to the Food 4 Less name, it operates as Foods Co.

Brands can use program to extend price and item offers beyond physical circular.

“If you open the app today you will find brand partners from Mondelez and General Mills to Coke utilizing the program,” Mr. Hudson said. “Brands are incredibly excited because they have the ability to extend price and item offers beyond the constraints of the physical circular.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York