Flow brings AR to the grocery aisle

The Canadian water brand has partnered with MemoMi to install its mirrors in stores as part of a sampling program.

Gwyneth Paltrow Tries Out Flow Alkaline Spring Water's Latest Augmented Reality Grocery Experience at ExpoWest

Apple’s Tim Cook says he’s “incredibly excited by augmented reality” because he can “see uses for it everywhere.” And he’s not the only one. It seems Bruce Country, ON.-based Flow Alkaline Spring Water is also trying to get ahead of the curve with its in-store augmented reality mirrors – something the brand bills as “the first of its kind in the grocery space.”

The Canadian H20 company will be using MemoMi’s AR tech as part of a new sampling strategy. MemoMi’s “Memory Mirror” tech has primarily been used inside fitting rooms at luxury department stores, enabling shoppers to try on clothing virtually via an AR mirror. But Flow has adapted the tech to be used in the decidedly less glam world of the grocery aisle as part of its “Superpower of Alkalinity” program.

The AR display lets shoppers choose a “superpower” associated with one of the brand’s six organic water flavours. Then, festooned in a virtual superhero mask, cape and badge, they can create an immersive experience that can be shared on social media. Brand ambassadors will also engage with consumers on-site, collecting their feedback, sharing offers and product samples.

This is the first time MemoMi has partnered with a CPG brand, with Flow debuting the AR experience at the Natural Food Product Expo on March 5 in Anaheim, California with the help of actress and Goop natural health founder Gwyneth Paltrow. The mirrors will be rolling out across select Loblaws, Sobeys and Whole Foods locations between May and September (the exact numbers are still to be determined).

Nicholas Reichenbach, Flow’s founder and CEO tells strategy that this kind of interactive technology really resonates with its core audience of health and fitness aficionados, adding that 75% of its customers are women and 45% have children. “We wanted to create an experience for the family, an engagement that leaves a positive, exciting impression,” he says.

The AR experience will be added to the majority of its sampling demonstrations throughout the summer across North America. The AR mirror also comes in three sizes, which Flow can customize to the space/experience. The company will hold approximately 6,500 demos this year.

When Flow first launched in 2015 – sourcing naturally alkaline spring water from Reichenbach’s family-owned property – it was only available in 50 Toronto retail locations. It worked with NKPR on targeting fashion, lifestyle and fitness, as well as trade publications, highlighting the hydrating properties of a high PH (alkalinity).

From 2015 to 2016, its strategy was to further disrupt the conventional beverage category, Reichenbach says. That’s when Flow signed with packaging company Tetra Pak to create renewable packaging that went against traditional plastic bottled water. Flow then expanded into 4,500 retail locations at Whole Foods, Loblaws, Rexall, Metro (Ontario and Quebec), Overwaitea Food Group, and Safeway West locations.

In 2017, Reichenbach says it began to see explosive growth based on “quality and taste of the water.” But now, Flow is looking to build brand affinity through messaging that’s more focused on how it can help consumers “achieve their goals” and find that “superhero inside all of us.”