As retailers and brands experiment with gamification in order to captivate digital-savvy shoppers, Albertsons has brought back an online game this summer that touts savings, prizes and more for those who play.
Flavor Adventure, which Albertsons’ banner-branded “for U” loyalty members can play on the banners’ mobile apps or desktop platforms, involves taking actions to earn “game plays” that then unlock mini games, recipes, digital coupons, sweepstakes entries and prizes.
The game is divided into six “lands” to explore: the cooler, grill, picnic, garden, house and yard. Players can unlock coupons for corresponding food products in each of the lands. “A world of flavor – and prizes – is waiting for you this summer,” the intro video notes.
The latest version of the game, which came back in June to run for a limited time through Aug. 1, has “new, expanded lands.” Albertsons doubled the number of gameplays players could receive per day from five last year, according to SweepstakesMag, to 10 this year.
Reporters and editors on Grocery Dive and its sister sites played the game last week and found that Albertsons, which is no stranger to experimenting with digital playgrounds, is using it as an opportunity to educate consumers, drive adoption of digital coupons, incentivize purchasing and promote its private brands.
Here are five unique aspects of the game.
For every $10 spent connected to a “for U” account, players earn a gameplay and sweepstakes entry. Customers can earn game plays by shopping at participating Acme, Albertsons, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Shaw's, Star Market, Tom Thumb or Vons stores.
Players also have a limited number of “bonus game plays” they can complete to unlock aspects of the game, but there aren’t enough bonus plays to fully complete Flavor Adventure.
The game incentivizes both in-person and online shopping for players, further continuing Albertsons’ omnichannel efforts that seek to meet consumers’ needs regardless of how they shop.
Albertsons is encouraging brick-and-mortar shoppers to check out the digital game through the use of in-store signage.
Clipping digital coupons
Throughout Flavor Adventure, players can unlock coupons for items corresponding to the “land” they are playing. Sometimes players can choose between coupons for different items while at other times, the game offers one choice.
In “The Cooler,” for example, players can pick between coupons for $1 off Signature Select luncheon meat or $1.50 off Lucerne shredded cheese.
Customers can find the deals earned through Flavor Adventure under the “clipped deals” tab of their accounts.
The emphasis on digital coupons comes at a time when research has shown growing adoption by consumers for these types of savings options. Research by Inmar Intelligence in 2021 found that, for the first time, consumers used electronic coupons more frequently than coupons in paper free-standing inserts in 2020.
Promoting private label
Albertsons’ store brands feature prominently among the digital coupons offered in the game. In “The Picnic,” players can select among coupons for paper plates, granola bars or 16 oz. luncheon meat all under the Signature Select brand. In “The Cooler,” players can get $1 off ice cream from Signature Select, while in “The Grill” they can choose between coupons for chicken wings or gold potatoes under the Signature Farms brand.
Mini games throughout are also sponsored by Albertsons’ private brands, including Open Nature, O Organics, Soleil, Waterfront Bistro and Signature Select. Private label products are also used in the recipe videos.
The emphasis on the private brands in the game follows recent extensive work by Albertsons to remake its store brand portfolio, including expanding and revamping its Open Nature brand and giving its O Organics brand a makeover. In May, the grocery company brought its Signature Farms, Signature Care and Signature Cafe private label products under its flagship Signature Select house brand.
Among the “bonus game plays” are options to watch videos to learn about Albertsons’ fair trade coffee and its sustainable sushi practices.
The fair trade coffee video looks to position the O Organics brand as a clean-ingredient, sustainable choice. The sushi video notes that shrimp, salmon, surimi and tuna used are all responsibly sourced.
In 2019, Albertsons pledged to support sustainable coffee sourcing as part of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge from Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit that certifies fair trade products in North America, and the following year, the grocery company announced its O Organics coffee became 100% certified sustainable by Fair Trade USA.
Emphasizing recipes and meal planning
Players can also unlock recipes throughout the game, such as a banana split with homemade chocolate sauce, walnuts and cherries or grilled salmon kabobs with peach and tomato panzanella salad. Players can choose to “learn about meal planning” to unlock a bonus gameplay.
The inclusion of recipes in the game ties into the Albertsons banners’ recipes and meal content on their websites and apps.
Taking a gamble
Many of the mini games in Flavor Adventure take cues from popular chance games and other casino-style favorites.
In “Wheel of Flavor,” players spin a lazy Susan to see if it stops on a plate of food, while in “Sizzlin’ Skewers” they spin three kebabs to see if the same food lines up in a row. Then there’s “Dill or No Dill,” where players watch burgers get shuffled before trying to pick the one that has pickles.
Other chance games include tapping a flower pot to see if a bee lands on it and scooping ice in a cooler to try and uncover a prize.
While it might seem like a lot of shopping and coupon clipping, Albertsons is encouraging players to finish the game: “Complete every land and you'll get a surprise reward for all your adventuring.”
Kaarin Vembar, Jessica Loder and Peyton Bigora contributed reporting.