Online grocer Peapod is one of those sleeper companies in my eyes — I honestly forgot they existed. Despite the fact that Peapod was founded in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois (years before the internet came into its own), I assumed they went under during the dot-com bust that happened in the early 2000’s.
They’re still around and kicking, though, and in fact they’ve made the news for their latest advertising and branding stunt here in Chicago!
Peapod brought the brick-and-mortar grocery store to the hallway of the State and Lake Street CTA station in Chicago. The walls are covered with 7-foot-tall “shelves” — filled with everything from fresh produce to essentials like paper towels — on both sides of the 60-foot long tunnel. To make a purchase, all you need to do is download the free Peapod app onto your smartphone (don’t worry it’s displayed on the wall next to their shelves). Then, just point your phone at the item you want to buy, purchase it, and the items will be delivered to your door within a day of ordering.
Seem random? Maybe. However, it’s definitely worth a shot in attracting existing and new customers to do their grocery shopping with Peapod and not have to actually go to the grocery store. At this station, 17,640 commuters on average walk through this tunnel each weekday. Talk about getting your brand’s message out there to the masses!
I live in the suburbs, so grocery shopping for me means hopping in my car and driving to a store ten minutes away where ample parking is available to me. In the middle of downtown Chicago, though, this isn’t how grocery shopping works at all. Peapod’s virtual shopping and mobile app could revolutionize the way city dwellers shop!
Mike Brennan, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Peapod, seems confident that consumer responses will be positive. “Grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily happen the way it used to. It’s becoming more of a task that happens in multiple steps throughout the week,” he said.
I tend to agree! My grocery shopping habits are radically different than my grandparents’, for example. I’ll buy stuff for one or two meals and then go out a few days later for more food. But my grandparents will go once a week for everything they’ll need – different generations mean different shopping habits.
Peapod says they’ve had strong responses to their latest CTA endeavor, “It kind of changes the game for the out-of-home advertising medium, almost as a kind of service rather than branding,” said Dave Etherington, senior vice president of marketing and mobile for Titan, a New York-based media firm who created the campaign for Peapod.
What have commuters said about the addition to their tunnel surroundings?
Virginia Marino, 28, said: “I typically take the ‘L’ during rush hour, so I don’t know that I would take the time to really walk by with my phone and shop. There’s no way you’re stopping; because of the crowd, it’s just not going to happen.”
Evelyn Ramirez, 20, slowed down enough to take in the new artistic feel of the pedestrian tunnel: “it’s kind of interesting, I feel like I’m actually in a store right now.”
Giving a man’s perspective was Brandon Precin, 23, who was impressed by the spontaneous nature of the ‘virtual foraging’ surrounding him: “I think it’s really cool, being able to walk by, scan something and shop. That’s a great concept. You get to look for what you want, scan with your phone and that’s it.” (Read these responses and more here).
I’d say so far, so good for Peapod’s business model! They’re not the first to try virtual grocery shopping (a company called Tesco launched it in Seoul, South Korea last year), but they’re the first to do it on a large scale here in America.
Even if your company doesn’t have the same business model as Peapod, that doesn’t mean you can’t walk away with some tips to improve your business:
- Recognize the next wave and trends in your industry. Stay up to date on industry news by subscribing to news and planning for future scenarios. You’re never too old (or successful) to learn something new!
- Think about your competition and plan how they could outperform you. Don’t just sit back and wait to react, think ahead and be the first to act. A good defense is a good offense.
- Don’t stay stagnant with your marketing and advertising. Changing your tagline, logo, and demographic every six months isn’t smart, but keeping everything the same year after year will grow stale to consumers. Try something new and fresh and see how your customers react to it. You never know, you may have just the thing to bring in new customers!
- Ask for outside help. If you’ve created your business from the ground up, then you’re obviously doing something right, but don’t be afraid to consult people who can help you make your company a success. Admitting you don’t know all the answers isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to further your company’s success!
As much as I would love to see pictures of shoes lined up in a CTA tunnel that I could click and buy as I rushed past, I don’t see that happening any time soon. Even if your company can’t directly apply Peapod’s idea to your next marketing campaign, that doesn’t mean you should sit on your hands, either! Be proactive with your next campaign and see where it takes you.
What do you think of Peapod’s new virtual supermarket? Would you use it? What’s the craziest type of marketing campaign you’ve witnessed? Sound off below!