has joined the online game craze. Qualityville launched on Sunday for customers to learn more about the Schnucks stores and have fun while doing it. Director of Communications for Schnucks Lori Willis said that the game could be described as “educainment,” as the stores seek to educate and entertainment at the same time.
“We believe our reputation for quality is known, but the rest of the story needs to be told,” she said. “We’ve tried to answer questions that they might not know to ask.”
The game will run for eight weeks, Monday until July 13. During that time, customers will have an opportunity to be involved in the game of 14 video clips regarding the store.
After confirming registration on the Qualityville site, users can select from approximately 15, one-minute videos about the Schnucks stores. The videos discuss a number of topics from Schnucks’ produce to its meats and how it compares against other local grocers.
Each video and even registration enters the player in a chance at the grand prize drawing that could total up to as much as $25,000. Some videos might even reveal a few bonus entries into the drawing. The jackpot starts at $5,000 and will increase by the number of “Likes” on the stores’ Facebook page.
The program comes as a part of the second and final leg of the “Peace of Mind” campaign that the stores started in January.
The first part of the campaign, titled Peace of Mind Pricing, focused on giving customers the best value on approximately 1,700 products that could be found in their grocery carts on a weekly basis, such as milk, eggs and bananas.
The second part of the campaign has focused on getting customers a behind-the-scenes look at how the food gets to their cart, Willis said.
Carol Johanek is an adjunct professor of marketing at Washington University and a consultant at Johanek and Associates. She said the Schnucks online video game could be a "very effective structure" for the company to educate consumers about the quality of its products and to reinforce its efforts to demonstrate that they are a good value.
"It's a win-win on both sides," Johanek said. On the one hand, Schnucks gets to learn more about digital shoppers using the information they provide when registering for the video game. On the other hand, consumers get more engaged with the product.
The strategy is known as "gamification" and is used to ensure that a game helps a company such as Schnucks achieve the goals it has established for a particular promotion. In this case, consumers will be educated about the company and asked to provide some sort of feedback—liking the business on Facebook, for example—in exchange for points.
While the practice of using games for marketing purposes isn't new, the use of such games online is, Johanek said. The shoe company Zappos became a forerunner by using online videos to educate consumers about its products, and Southwest Airlines also has used online videos.
St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop recently launched an online game called Bearville. Games like that one are effective and popular, particularly among younger people, Johanek said.
She's unaware of other major grocery stores that have launched an online video game, but she suspects others are contemplating the strategy.
"I have to believe that there's more than Schnucks looking at it," Johanek said. The fact that people can now shop for groceries online using vendors such as mywebgrocer.com "only adds to the potential success of such a campaign" by Schnucks, she said.
Schnucks and other companies using online video games may watch traffic to their websites or use other tools to gauge whether a promotion is working, Johanek said. In many cases, businesses want to see someone visit a website and then make a purchase—the degree to which that happens is known as a conversion rate. In the case of Schnucks, it might be sharing information about the grocer with other people online.
After a promotion ends, businesses can keep consumers coming back by integrating the video game into other services such as sales, online coupons or email blasts, Johanek said.
The popularity of online video games from businesses is likely to grow throughout the next five to 10 years, she said.
"This is the way people like to get their information," Johanek said.
Todd Schnuck, president and chief operating officer of the Midwest grocery chain, said that the second and last leg of the campaign serves as a quality statement for their stores.
“Once they view the videos, they will appreciate and understand what they get when they come in our stores,” he said. “They can come to our stores and feel good about the price and the quality that they get.”
Willis and Schnuck each pointed out that another important point of the campaign was to be able to better communicate with their customers through social media and a stronger online presence.
“We’re really hoping it establishes a better line of communication with customers,” Schnuck said. “There are so many people getting information through the Internet that it’s important to have those lines of communication.”