F’real, a California-based milkshake and do-it-yourself smoothie company, is stepping up its efforts in virtual reality with its new mobile app game “F’real Shake Run”. The initiative is designed to keep the 18-year-old in-store retailer brand, which is a subsidiary of Rich’s Products Corporation, relevant as the pandemic has caused people to spend more time online.
“The name of the game over the last year and over has been the concept of being really nimble and being able to revise your plan and try to make the most of opportunities where they really exist,” said Hayden Perry, Director Principal of Marketing at F’Real.
The Subway Surfers-style mobile game, which challenges players to run and dodge obstacles, is downloaded via a QR code found on the digital screens of the F’Real Shaker Machine in-store. To promote the virtual reality initiative, F’real relies on popular creators of TikTok to challenge their followers to beat their score using the hashtag #FrealAF. There is also paid media for its Gen Z audience, which rolls out across gaming consoles and YouTube, as well as platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Considering the pandemic lockdown, there has been an increase in gaming and marketers want to be a part of it.
“As we move into a world where everything becomes purchasable, where everything becomes connected to commerce, it stands to reason that more and more consumers will also be shopping from advertising for mobile games,” said Mason Bates. , Director of Sponsorship and Partnerships at Mindshare’s Content + studio.
To stay connected and busy during the pandemic, Perry said, people have turned to social media and gaming platforms “as a way to responsibly socialize and get the brain out of burnout.” F’real hopes to harness this as a way to generate brand awareness and ultimately drive additional sales and engagement, Perry said.
Via the game, the brand will be able to track the number of customer conversions via the QR code used to launch the application. QR code scans reveal information such as what time people buy F’real smoothies and shakes, where they buy them, and what device they use to purchase. However, the mobile game does not collect any user data from the app itself.
From now on, the game is free from brand advertising. But Perry says F’real plans to expand digital offerings within the brand’s app.
‘F’real Shake Run’ follows the brand’s 2020 campaign, which was also a QR-code-based virtual reality experience that Perry said garnered nearly 50,000 uses in total, or an average of around 8. 000 uses per month during the flight period.
The brand of shake and smoothie is usually found in convenience stores. But like other brands in store, it had to pivot when the pandemic hit, which severely affected foot traffic. In response, F’real has dramatically cut back on in-store and retail spending, and now the majority of media spending is on digital marketing efforts like mobile gaming, Perry said.
“The pandemic, which initially had a fairly dramatic impact [convenience] in-store traffic, has forced us to re-evaluate the consumer marketing mix and spending levels, ”said Perry, noting that even after the pandemic,“ I don’t expect our media mix to shift away from digital anytime soon.
Although the brand declined to provide details on its spending on digital marketing, Perry said nearly two-thirds of its 2021 marketing budget was spent on its virtual reality and brand awareness campaigns. According to Kantar ad spend data, F’real spent $ 20,000 on media in 2020; this figure does not include what the brand spends on social media, as Kantar does not track social spending.
What Perry calls unproductive dollars goes towards the concept and the creation of it. Meanwhile, labor dollars, about 5-10% of the budget, will fund traditional media, like in-store point-of-sale material, she said. It was a different story this time around last year, as just under half of the brand’s marketing budget was allocated to the VR campaign. The brand has also doubled its spending on social platforms, like TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch, since last year.
“We are focused on educating Gen Z consumers, and our media mix reflects that by leveraging the technologies and platforms they spend the most time on,” she said.
Even if normal life resumes on the other side of the pandemic, Bates says, people will continue to engage massively on their mobile devices, including games. “Even as consumer concern wanes and optimism grows, mobile games will still be a source of escape and play,” Bates said.
However, starting a mobile game from scratch is not without its challenges. Once it’s created, marketers need to make it easy to download and play the game, Bates added.
Going forward, Perry said F’real will continue to allocate additional marketing funds to support the digital experience, particularly the F’real app where the Shake Run game lives.