Peapod Pilots Virtual Grocery Stores to Shop Anywhere, Anytime

Peapod Wants to Convert Commuters into Consumer Shoppers with Mobile Technology

Peapod mobile billboard showing virtual shelf content of their virtual grocery stores
Peapod mobile billboard touring through Philly and Boston depicting the virtual shelf content of their virtual grocery stores. Peapod

Digital Shoppers at Supermarkets are proliferating … mobile apps are bringing the grocery store to the shopper and NOT the shopper to the grocery store. That is the concept of shopping walls or virtual grocery stores.

Tesco, in 2011, started with "shopping walls" in a Seoul Korea subway station . The observation… consumers stuck in the subway waiting for the train will use their downtime to shop for grocery items using the smartphones.

In the US, in the fall of 2012, Peapod installed a mobile shopping wall in the Chicago's Sate and Lake Station Tunnel. Why? Consumers are computers that can be converted into shoppers! Yet... most consumers have NEVER heard of shopping walls.

Couple that with smartphone penetration nearing 80% in 2015, and you now have a way to offer smarter shopping targeted to the new segment of Digital Natives.

Peapod Creates Awareness With Mobile Shopping Wall

That summer Peapod trucks were expected at popular neighborhood hangouts, ballparks, concerts, and even coffee shops - executing a virtual marketing campaign circuit spanning Baltimore and Washington, D.C. , Philly, New York, Boston and Chicago. to generate awareness of the concept. How many people will stop at the truck and place an order is not the point. Train stations, bus stations, airports, etc. are valuable real-estate with captive audiences...

so creating awareness helps them roll out shopping walls anywhere there is space and permit to do so.

Peapod's first mover strategy takes visual marketing in the direction of "virtual stores" that are either physical billboards or digital billboards wherever there are potential grocery shoppers.. using super realistic graphics that represent a virtual grocery aisle.

It is easier to see the pictures here than a long explanation. Peapod's advantage… they have lots of trucks to attach that high tech virtual billboards to get up close with potential shoppers.

They are using a low-tech campaign for this high tech venture to motivate smartphone users to scan a QR code and download a free Peapod Mobile app. Since it is soo cool, I bet most consumers will start shopping right there. And of course, you can bet there will be lots of photos posted on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

[How is it determined where to place digital billboards… since they are more costly as a capital expenditure? I have seen pictures of small billboards at bus stations. Are you changing up the content on digital billboards based on location to address different consumer demographics and lifestyle factors due to geography? This would be congruent with Mike Brennan's comments of "hyper-local. ]of larger-than-life grocery aisles positioned in community recreation centers, on coffee sleeves at local cafes, [Why do 3rd parties such as the rec centers and local cafe's participate? In other words what's in it for them?] [Are you finding certain regions, zip codes, etc. having a higher index of downloading and usage?]

You Have to Get The Consumer to STOP in Order to Shop

"We all know how challenging it can be to get the attention of consumers in a meaningful way. When we piloted the virtual store's last fall, we found that the advertising stopped people - it engaged them, and we saw mobile app downloads as a result," said Mike Brennan, COO, Peapod. "This go-round, we're exploring new, hyper-local platforms to communicate our convenience message of 'Shop Anywhere, Anytime with Peapod.'" [Do you have any metrics on the before and after download volume? Are you seeing increased usage of the app and subsequently increased sales based on the campaign?]

They selected high profile spots to surely create mega-awareness such as Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and US Cellular Field; at Café Benvenuto in midtown Manhattan along with a myriad selection of tourist attractions and well-traveled thoroughfares.

Peapod has started with items and categories that shoppers tend to buy weekly and for now. Major brands invest heavily in visual marketing and shopper marketing programs so no surprise that brands like Barilla®, Coca-Cola®, Kimberly Clark®, Proctor & Gamble® and Reckitt Benckiser® jumped on the bandwagon.

Adding Guerrilla Marketing to the Peapod Recipe

Besides the high-tech billboards mounted on their trucks and another venue, Peapod is employing highly visual guerrilla marketing tactics to catch consumers' attention. These include a "human billboard" campaign that will distribute 10,000 t-shirts through radio partnerships, as well as a Peapod "cart car" - a 2014 Chevy Spark outfitted as a shopping cart , complete with elevated handlebars - cruising the streets of downtown Chicago.