“We know consumers are increasingly interested in digital interactions, and Smithfield Rewards really allows us to do that and provide our fans with a unique way to engage with our brand,” says Melanie Abel, director of Smithfield Brand.
The Smithfield Rewards portal is a virtual gateway to the very real town of Smithfield, Virginia, where the pork processor was founded more than 80 years ago. Smithfield enlisted the expertise of HelloWorld, a Detroit, Michigan-based digital marketing firm, to bring the town of Smithfield to life in a virtual universe, Abel says. HelloWorld created a photo-realistic online experience that allows users to interact with real-life architectural features located in the town.
“There’s something really unique about the Smithfield brand in that we really have a sense of place that our competitors, frankly don’t have,” Abel says. “We really want to lean into that, and tell our customers a little more about our history. Consumers, now more than ever, want to know more about the brand itself.”
While visiting the “virtual” town of Smithfield, consumers can earn loyalty points and redeem purchases for prizes such as a year’s supply of bacon, in-store coupons, Smithfield branded merchandise and chances to a Grand Prize of a kitchen makeover valued at $50,000.
Additional landmarks in Smithfield, Virginia, will be replicated online, and visitors to the site will be able to interact with those landmarks — taking surveys, playing games and completing a user profile among other activities. A consumer can upload a grocery receipt, for example, which will open a theater where videos can be viewed, or a museum tour featuring more information about the Smithfield brand history, traditions and core values.
The Taste of Smithfield restaurant and retail store was the first virtual building to launch on the Smithfield Rewards portal, and it has been live since May 1. The site garnered 350 million impressions, which the company hopes to convert to active users. Smithfield hopes to gain 300 active users per month during the first six months of the program launch.
Smithfield Rewards emerged as an answer to the question of how the company could best capture consumers’ attention during the 30 seconds that elapses before a buying decision is made, Abel explains. The platform also allows Smithfield to engage consumers on a deeper level.
“We were founded on hams,” Abel says, “which are a big part of consumers’ holiday meals. It’s a very emotional buy, and this plays into that a little bit more.
“Consumers now more than ever want to know about the brands that they’re buying, and they’re doing the research to see where was this brand founded and where is this brand produced,” she adds.
A bonus of the program for Smithfield is the insight the company gains from consumer interactions with the portal. “We’ll understand what they’re buying and how to accommodate that messaging and that offer to them,” Abel notes. And unlike Smithfield campaigns that focus on a single product line, Smithfield Rewards enables the company to expose consumers to the breadth of the company’s offerings.
“Initially, we’re launching with breakfast,” Abel said. “We’ve launched new frozen breakfast sandwiches, frozen links and patties. So, this is really giving us a chance to show the breadth in that line.” Abel says that as each phase rolls out the platform will encompass the ‘Anytime Favorites’ line, spiral ham line, smoked sausage and marinated pork line.
“Loyal consumers are so important to your portfolio,” Abel advises. “The program allows Smithfield to reward loyal customers through special offers and different promotions. It enables personalization and flexibility for consumers to take advantage of those offers.”