Why are Foot Locker and Nike sending ‘sneakerheads’ on AR scavenger hunts?

Discussion
Photo: Nike
Oct 30, 2018
Tom Ryan

On October 20, smartphone-touting sneakerheads ventured across Los Angeles to participate in Foot Locker’s first “The Hunt” augmented reality (AR) scavenger hunt. Those able to unlock geo-targeted AR clues throughout the city earned the chance to be among the first to acquire new limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers.

Participants were encouraged to:

  • Download the Foot Locker App;
  • Use the app to decipher geo-targeted clues;
  • Go to locations to collect objects in augmented reality;
  • Compete all three levels to unlock an access card to acquire the shoes.

The virtual game started at 11:00 p.m. after the end of the Los Angles Laker’s first home game of the NBA season at Staples Center and the first game for Mr. James, the four-time MVP, with his new team. The shoe sold out in less than two hours.

“Foot Locker has always looked for new ways to elevate the shopping experience for our customers,” said Frank Bracken, VP and GM of Foot Locker, U.S., in a statement. “It was a natural evolution to embrace AR, taking our scavenger hunts to the next level.”

Nike first tapped AR-gaming for limited-edition drops with the 2015 launch of its SNKRS app. The brand added a geolocation component by introducing SNKRS Stash last year, often compared to Pokémon-Go. In one instance, a release for a shoe in collaboration with celebrity chef David Chang was unlocked when SNKRS Stash users held their cameras up to Mr. Chang’s famed restaurant in the East Village. Foot Locker’s promotion stands out because it was tied to a specific event.

For sneaker releases, the SNKRS app helped even the playing field with re-sellers who would frequently use bots to score early releases online and avoided competition in lines outside stores that could sometimes lead to violent incidents. SNKRS also brought back a treasure hunt experience to the sneaker release that many say was reminiscent of how things were before the internet.

Ron Faris, GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, told Highsnobiety earlier this year, “For many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can techniques used in Foot Locker’s “The Hunt” and Nike’s “SNKRS” AR-driven scavenger hunt experiences be applied to other product categories and retailers? Do you see apps featuring location-based AR emerging to become a major driver of discovery and engagement at retail?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The word of mouth, the customer engagement, the fear of missing out that they generated by engaging fans to get them -- that's priceless."
"Yes, this insiders hunt experience can and should be replicated. The key for consumers is that they feel a sense of status and community while participating..."
"Certainly. To integrate a gaming element into marketing activities is a smart idea. It has also been used in associate training with great results."

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Why are Foot Locker and Nike sending ‘sneakerheads’ on AR scavenger hunts?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Nikki Baird
BrainTrust

This was the perfect convergence of trends — AR-style games like Pokemon Go, sneakerheads, scavenger hunts, and limited editions. Other products may not be able to bring together all of these exact elements, but brands should easily be able to bring together enough of a combination to replicate the success.

One thing to keep in mind, though, the sneakers would’ve sold out anyway. But the word of mouth, the customer engagement, the fear of missing out that they generated by engaging fans to get them — that’s priceless.

Charles Dimov
Guest

It works well for the innovation effect, and bringing a sense of adventure to the brand. Associating an exciting experience is great. It creates buzz. It generates enthusiasm for the retailer. However, it targets the consumer that is either a deep fanatic or has more disposable time on their hands. It’s not going to work for brands that cater to the busy parent or the consumer who is not enthusiastic enough to jump through the hurdles.

I love the idea of using apps that bring more value than merely being able to purchase, get delivery updates, or see more items. You can do these online. An app that offers a membership feel, or shows secret messages … that brings an element of exclusivity or being part of the club. Again, good techniques for building in more loyalty.

Chris Buecker
BrainTrust

Certainly. To integrate a gaming element into marketing activities is a smart idea. It has also been used in associate training with great results. To combine gaming with new AR technology is a smart idea. In the future, as AR/VR is further developing, we will see much more of it in retail. And yes, these hunt experiences are independent from a particular product category.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

For any retailer with a younger demographic, these types of experiences can absolutely be applied. They can help to deepen the passion for the brand and rather than requiring the consumer to meet the retailer or brand on their terms (in-store or online), these experiences meet the consumer where they are and where they want to be. Brilliant.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Yes, this insiders hunt experience can and should be replicated. The key for consumers is that they feel a sense of status and community while participating and the experience itself must be created by someone who is also intimately familiar with the insider community or it will be snuffed out as inauthentic.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

We love to solve puzzles and are drawn to a challenge and a quest. Combine those foundational human traits with enabling technology (AR based games and puzzles) and a mobile device and you have a perfect experiential trifecta. I doubt this would be a valued approach if I were marketing a snowblower but there are many products where this technique would capture and secure an emotional bond between a shopper and a brand. It’s not surprising that Nike created this experience. They are one of the best brand storytellers out there.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

For product types and segments that inherently have fanatically loyal buyers, this approach makes a lot of sense to build up the anticipation and intrigue around a new product launch. It might not work for all product types, but fo younger demographics it certainly makes for a more engaging experience and that’s what those consumers crave!

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

This really not a new concept, even via AR. It’s silly that brands and retailers have done so few iterations of this given that the capability has been there for nearly a decade.

The benefit really goes far beyond those that participated. The buzz plus the feeling of a missed fun opportunity amongst those that didn’t take part will be sustained for a long time. Hopefully, there will be follow-ups to leverage that.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

This was a targeted, smart and well executed campaign! It brings together avid fans, big brands and energy to drive demand (and sales)!

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

All about stickiness, and also generating some experience for actual buyers to talk about rather than people who buy to resell. Using the AR serves as a gating factor so the store employees couldn’t be bribed to hold back inventory for the grey market. Smart move.

Seth Nagle
BrainTrust

People love two things: exclusivity and a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Bringing them together is an amazing way to grow brand awareness and successfully launch a new product.

If done correctly brands and retailers could create a one-of-a-kind experience for their consumer by tying the AR into their branding/offering. Think what Patagonia and The North Face could do with the National Parks or Gap connecting with the designer brands and trendsetting locations. Lots of opportunities with AR.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The word of mouth, the customer engagement, the fear of missing out that they generated by engaging fans to get them -- that's priceless."
"Yes, this insiders hunt experience can and should be replicated. The key for consumers is that they feel a sense of status and community while participating..."
"Certainly. To integrate a gaming element into marketing activities is a smart idea. It has also been used in associate training with great results."

Take Our Instant Poll

How would you rate the potential for apps featuring location-based AR to become a driver of discovery and engagement at retail?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...