Starbucks Inspires Walmart Shoppers with AR

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Starbucks Inspires Walmart Shoppers with AR

By Patrycja Malinowska - 01/01/2020

Nestle’s Starbucks Coffee unwrapped a fun holiday program at Walmart incorporating augmented reality to spotlight a variety of seasonal SKUs ranging from ground coffee to K-cups and cookie straws.

“We tried to inspire shoppers to stir up merry memories with Starbucks at home throughout the entire season instead of just one time,” says Karen Maxwell, who leads shopper marketing for Walmart at Nestle Coffee Partners. “I love the program because it really helps shoppers easily find Starbucks at home coffees throughout the holiday season no matter how they shop Walmart.”

In stores, P-O-P materials – including shelf trays and side panels on a dedicated endcap in Action Alley, plus a variety of shelf talkers in the coffee aisle – call attention to seasonal SKUs and depict a QR code that triggers the AR experience. Shoppers point their smartphone cameras at the code and then scan the packaging of a participating product to materialize a red door in the aisle. Knocking on the door (tapping the phone screen twice) transports users inside a home decked out for the holidays. They can then rotate 360 degrees to unveil various cozy scenes – from a Christmas tree to a fireplace – with each vignette offering up a beverage suggestion, including:

• Holiday cookies are served: Pair Starbucks holiday blend coffee with cinnamon sugar snickerdoodles.

• Enjoy your favorite Starbucks coffee: While decorating & wrapping gifts.

• Cozy up by the fire: With cups of Starbucks peppermint mocha-flavored coffee.

• Put a bow on it: Wrap festive ribbons around coffee cups.

“[The AR element is] a fun way to drive moms that are insanely busy during the holidays down the aisle without asking them to do something more,” Maxwell says.

On, a “make merry memories” display ad that ran on the home page invited consumers to “gather with Starbucks coffee all season.” The ad linked to a corresponding showcase offering themed videos and “add to cart” buttons for seasonal SKUs. The destination additionally delivered a “minty mocha coffee” recipe and a ZIP code locator to find “Merry Memories Mobile Tour” in-store sampling events.

The omnichannel program kicked off mid-October and ran through almost the end of December. It was the first Starbucks activation at Walmart to incorporate AR.

“We’ve been building year over year with Walmart in supporting seasons and they’ve been partnering with us in seasonal activation for the last several years,” Maxwell says. “We started conversations [for this program] early – in quarter one of 2019 – and then had them often, which would also be my advice to suppliers: Partnering with your customer is key.”