I couldn’t help but notice a billboard sign I passed by this week. The colorful board was promoting a free virtual gift for Farmville users who purchase an ice coffee at 7-11. I had to read the board twice and nearly crashed, but it seemed strange that it wasn’t the other way around. I’m used to seeing internet companies partnering with big retail companies like 7-11 to get awareness and users.
But, that’s the point here. Farmville with its 66 million+ users has a more active and bigger user base than 7-11. 7-11 knows that a good enough % of these loyal game players will go out to 7-11 and get their caffeine fix just so they can have a virtual gift. To be fair, the promotion frenzy is going both ways with 7-11 selling Zynga (Farmville, YoVille, Mafia Wars) branded food & drink, as well as game cards.
It’s the first retail partnership for Zynga, but a trend that I know is coming fast – offline, retail companies using popular online apps to increase their sales or to enhance the shopping experience. As people spend more of their time in an online world, the “real” world will need to find new ways to get attention. Many people already spend more time at their computers or surfing/texting on their phone than in the physical world. Even people in the physical world get frequent micro-interruptions on their smart phones pulling them back to the virtual world. What’s your virtual world marketing strategy?