Mobile Apps and Virtual Reality: Do They Make Sense in the Food and Beverage Space?


Mobile and virtual reality apps are being used to engage customers in almost every industry. The Food & Beverage space is no different, and is inviting consumers to enjoy virtual experiences via their own homegrown apps.

Mobile apps and virtual reality in the Food and Beverage space

It seems far reaching to engage Food & Beverage customers through an app, but that hasn’t dampened the imagination of some brands as they step into the arena and create their own mobile tools for driving consumer engagement and brand awareness, or even launch new programs and products, via this platform. Hormel, known for their bacon products, has created an app that includes a virtual bacon experience through Google Cardboard. The app was launched for B2C purchasing, which is a big step for Hormel as they usually participate on a B2B retail model. This B2C initiative was promoted to their followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The use of the app and virtual reality (VR) is a huge step into e-commerce for Hormel. So far they report that the venture with this interactive technology has been profitable. Other Food & Beverage brands have recognized this advantage and have already followed suit.

Why it works 

So far, it’s looking like VR could be a marketing home run for industries like automotive, retail, hospitality and food. Inexpensive cardboard packaging and mobile apps create a memorable augmented viewing experience for potential customers. “Virtual Reality is the next great storytelling tool for brands,” said Ben Kosinski, head of The Collaboratory at iCrossing. “It allows people to interact with brands and experiences in an entirely new, immersive format.” Some examples of how apps and VR are being used by major Food and Beverage brands are:

  • McDonald’s Sweden added a new spin to its Happy Meal by enabling customers to download a complementary mobile app and turn the Happy Meal packaging into a virtual reality viewer, as a way to build and strengthen relationships with its younger consumers.
  • Coca-Cola rolled out a successful virtual reality headset strategy launched last year that started with their brand, Fanta, hoping to encourage more consumers to recycle cardboard packaging and pair it with a smartphone to create a content viewer. This not only highlights VR, but also recycling and waste reduction for the company.

How can it benefit craft brands?

Brands with smaller followings need to weigh and prioritize rolling out VR experiences over other mobile-first initiatives. Together, mobile apps and VR have proved to be a revenue-generating and image-enhancing solution for major players in the game, such as McDonald’s, but smaller companies should ensure their audience outreach is stable before proceeding. If craft brands have mastered their audience connections, customer-life cycles, and optimized their mobile sites, these technologies will be a natural next step to promoting their brand and products, while further engaging their customer base by leveraging the “wow” factor of these platforms.

Jill England

Jill England

Jill likes to share usable information with readers spanning industries such as food, travel, beauty, sports, pets, holistic health, and all things green. She's a curious and avid consumer of information of all kinds to enable continuous learning and sharing.
Jill England