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The Further Acceleration Of Virtual Experiences

With a mix of lockdown and the fear of going outside, corporations are seeing an opportunity to provide community platforms that allow families to connect with one another and to other groups around the world.

With a mix of lockdown and the fear of going outside, corporations are seeing an opportunity to provide community platforms that allow families to connect with one another and to other groups around the world. Specifically, Scotts and Walmart partnered with experiential kids retailer CAMP to develop new digital experiences that engage and delight. Check out our spotlight piece about how these retailers made such a swift digital pivot—including the creation of a star-studded digital entertainment series—and how they’re connecting with consumers by filling a key void this summer.


Walmart Connects With Parents By Broadening Its App Experience

A new digital camp experience draws on star power from the likes of LeBron James and Drew Barrymore to guide kids on virtual choose-your-own adventure sessions ranging themes from arts and makeup to physical fitness. Powered by niche retailer CAMP, the goal of Camp by Walmart is to keep kids entertained and offer online alternatives to cancelled summer fun.

50 virtual activities debuted through the Walmart app on July 8, with 200 more rolling out until September. “This is the start of a content hub inside of Walmart that integrates an entertainment experience with shopping,” said CAMP founder Ben Kaufman to PSFK researchers. “I don’t know about you, but for the most part with big retailers like Walmart, I think of them when I know what I need. If I need paper towels, I think about Walmart. The cool thing about integrating entertainment into an app like Walmart’s core app is it helps on the discovery side of things.”

The first experiences to debut include “The Great Family Challenge,” which provides activities that promote family bonding, including makeup sessions with Drew Barrymore and workouts with LeBron James, as well as an initiation from Neil Patrick Harris into any of the 14 camp challenges. Another is called “Skills Camp,” where virtual campers can learn new skills like how to sing with Idina Menzel.

Janey Whiteside, CCO at Walmart, commented,”We’re hoping to bring some summer fun to families across the country. We know Walmart plays a role in our communities that extends far beyond getting them necessary supplies, and we see that now more than ever.” Considering that nearly 60 million Americans have the Walmart app on their phones, the digital  series has the potential to reach many families, as well as target new demographics for both parties.

Summer-Related Brand Scotts Buy In To Getting Outside

Beyond the Walmart partnership, lawn & garden company Scotts is working with CAMP to launch another digital alternative to quintessential summer activity: Field Day. This collaboration, revealed July 10 and taking place live on July 24, is designed to create the” world’s largest field day” where families can play games with each other and compete online, earning points for their participation. Games include point toss, potato sack races, tic tac throw, pool noodle javelin and more. Families are invited to sign up and pick a team to join out of three, select from scores of Field Day classics to play at home and share media like photos and video clips. 

A Pivot By Experiential Retailer To Experience Supplier

CAMP, the family experience store, was forced to shutter its doors during the pandemic alongside many retailers—but this hasn’t stopped the brand from providing its signature interactive activities for kids and parents alike. Instead, CAMP has swiftly pivoted to digital, starting with virtual birthday party experiences and then launching the online entertainment with Walmart and Scotts.

Though digital integration was always a part of CAMP’s long-term plan, its realization accelerated during the pandemic. In an interview with PSFK’s President of Research & Strategy, CAMP CEO Ben Kaufman and CMO Tiffany Markofsky explained the brand’s transition and how the virtual experiences began. “We felt comfortable starting our evolution into digital. It was always part of the master plan for CAMP, but we thought we were being cool and going against the grain by going physical before we went digital. The virus required us to do the digital thing quicker than expected,” said Kaufman.

For the longer haul, Kaufman envisions that CAMP will continue to build out its digital strategy, likely integrating it into a more flexible and fluid physical store experience. “This is the new normal,” Kaufman said. “We’re going to have digital experiences and physical experiences and then merchandise in the middle of those two pillars that aids both experiences. You have merchandise that helps support a digital experience, like Scotts Field Day. We’ll send you a potato sack and team t‑shirts and so on and so forth. For physical experiences, obviously, we have merchandise adjacent to our play experiences.”

For the future, the company sees itself developing into a family experience company with private label offerings for brands and retailers.