Grocer's Mobile Game Lets Users Farm for Real Food

Ecommerce service GrubMarket, which delivers organic and local produce, meat, dairy, and more to customers at up to half off what they’d find at a typical grocer, has launched an educational game for iOS mobile devices that enables users to win points redeemable for virtual products or physical discounts.

GrubMarket Farmbox, downloadable via Apple’s App Store, lets players manage a virtual farm, rewarding them with points in the process. The points can be spent within the game to purchase virtual goods and farm tools, or they can be spent at toward purchasing fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods for delivery.

The richly animated game provides a variety of real-life farm elements, including different soils, weather systems, seeds, animals, fruits and vegetables. As players prepare soils, plant seeds and harvest fields, players will expand their knowledge of farming while receiving the rewards.

"All of our customers greatly enjoy our farm-fresh produce, and we created this game to help bring them and their kids even closer to the farm,” said Mike Xu, CEO of San Francisco-based GrubMarket. “They'll learn all about the real-life steps and processes of managing their own farm, and they'll get rewarded with points as they advance through the game."

Developed for players of all ages, the game soon will introduce social gameplay, where users can compete with friends to see who earns the most points.

GrubMarket Farmbox’s launch corresponds with recent research conducted by Progressive Grocer and Fayetteville, Ark.-based market research firm Field Agent showing consumers’ growing desire for personalization in grocers’ mobile apps through gamification. About one-third of smartphone users want games for winning points and/or rewards, with women (35 percent) and Millennials (36 percent) showing particularly strong interest.  

Offering a choice between in-game rewards and points redeemable for physical products also corresponds with the research. Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of smartphone users want apps to let them choose their reward types, with women (62 percent) particularly interested in having that option.

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