No Frills levels up its flyer

The grocer is finding new ways to extend vendors' presence and promos using entertainment like video games and music.

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No Frills is reaffirming its offbeat brand positioning with a retro feel again, boosting video game PC Optimum prizing in its latest game.

Earlier this month, the grocery banner re-released its 8-bit video game “Aisles of Glory,” which was first developed with AOR John St. in 2019. The browser-based retro game simulated the in-store shopping experience, where the player can choose among five characters to grab deals and avoid frills

But the fact that characters are wearing facemasks (reflecting pandemic safety protocols) is not the only change. Whereas previous versions of the game allowed players to collect produce and products from the No Name and President’s Choice private labels, this year’s featured a host of major CPG companies and their most prominent brands, such as Yoplait’s drinkable yogurt, JD Irving’s Cavendish frozen foods and Unilever’s Klondike. Products from Danone, Kellogg’s and Conagra were also seen.

According to Ashley McGill, brand director for No Frills, showcasing these name-brand products alongside its Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie and No Name products is a way to remind customers why No Frills is unique. But it also provides more visibility for vendor partners as part of their shopper marketing: they received both flyer and in-game presence as part of the partnership, with the products featured in “Aisles of Glory” also being included in a themed section of its weekly flyer, which also included bonus PC Optimum points and exclusive PC Optimum member pricing.

On the consumer side, the new version of the game was enhanced with bigger prizing, linked to PC Optimum accounts and in-store purchases. A new tiered system of points in-game translated to more points for the PC Optimum loyalty program, as does a secret “no name” bonus level to earn bonus gameplay points and an enhanced leaderboard to create more competition between players.

There are also five-digit “Hauler codes” distributed through sales receipts and social posts can be entered into the game for players to get exclusive benefits, driving further traffic to the game.

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Besides finding new opportunities for vendor brands to get showcased to shoppers, McGill says No Frills wants to keep the momentum going behind its “Hauler” messaging, this time through a platform that serves demand for content and entertainment during the pandemic. And it also has a practical use for shoppers as well.

“Having our products from the flyer reflected in the video game shopping experience makes players one step closer to figuring out their own shopping lists for the week, so they can turn gameplay into a reality,” she says.

McGill says many brands have started to look the same in their communications during COVID, but No Frills is the only discount grocery brand that can play in different pop cultural spaces legitimately, be they gaming or music.

No Frills also went with a retro feel for Haulin’ State of Mind, an album that is being promoted through TV, digital and social, complete with a retro infomercial harkening back to CD album clubs. Complete with Andy Warhol-like banana cover art, the album follows up on “A Cart Apart,” a song that also served as a PSA informing shoppers how to stay safe.

Much like the game, this album also had a shopper element: consumers could get an album download by texting a No Frills number, which also signed them up for exclusive flyer offers. Sending flyers direct to mobile is more direct way to reach consumers who may be less inclined to pick one up on their way into the store these days – and has fewer friction points than one sent to email – but McGill adds that it also provides more convenience for shoppers.