October 23, 2012, 12:44 PM

Consumers go bananas for Chiquita’s mobile campaign

QR code-stickered fruit drew 159,315 unique visits in three months this summer.

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As the “official fresh snacks” of Little League Baseball and Softball for the next three years, Chiquita Bananas wanted a fun way to reach the league’s 1.8 million newsletter subscribers, the company says. So, this summer, Chiquita launched its first mobile app campaign that used QR codes—or Quick Response, two-dimensional bar codes—printed on the bananas’ oval stickers, along with URLs on the stickers and in text messages, to direct Little Leaguers and their families to download the app, enter a sweepstakes, play games and check in at stores.

The app, developed by vendor FunMobility, features branding for each of the more than a dozen retailers that partnered with Chiquita in the campaign, including Target Corp., No. 23 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Wal-Mart Stores, No. 4; BJ’s Wholesale Club, No. 244; and Safeway Inc., No. 106. When a consumer downloads the app, he selects his preferred shopping location and the app then only displays branding from that store. For example, a consumer who selects Target sees store locator information for Target, and the games and other features of the app contain Target logos and branding. The retailer’s bull’s-eye icon becomes the target in the app’s “banana shot” game, for instance, according to FunMobility.

“For our retailers, the customization was for them and them alone; users wouldn’t see their competition throughout the app,” says Cassidy Hamilton, brand marketing specialist at Chiquita. “We wanted to do something that would drive consumers to retail stores and be a value-add for retailers.”

At the end of August, after the Little League World Series, Chiquita had tallied 159,315 unique visits to its mobile-optimized landing page, 45,613 sweepstakes entries that required users to check in to a participating retail location with the mobile app to enter, and 31,275 newsletter sign-ups, Chiquita says. Additionally, 40% of users created a personalized baseball card through the app and shared it on social networks, and users on average played a Chiquita/Little League trivia game 10.7 times and a banana shot arcade game four times, the brand reports.

“Overall as a company, for the first time doing an app, I think we really hit it out of the park,” Hamilton says. “I don’t know if we’ll keep doing QR codes, but we saw a lot of success with mobile,” she adds. She says most users typed in the URL to reach the landing page for downloading the app rather than scanning the QR code to get there. A demographics mismatch may be to blame—studies show that most QR code scanners are affluent, young adult men, but Chiquita targets young moms and families, she says. 

Still, the app drew much higher user engagement than the brand’s mobile-optimized web site for chiquitabananas.com, she says, without revealing by how much. Chiquita is looking into what features and modifications it can add to the app for the next baseball season, she says. 

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