Our Partner:

Weber Shandwick and Meijer

Type of Company:

Nationally recognized supermarket chain

HQ:

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Key Date:

Q3 2014

Meijer, a family-focused grocery chain known fondly by all mid-westerners, approached Uncorked seeking a unique way to engage their younger adult audience by physically installing an experience on various college campuses. Uncorked focused on the connection between the away-from-home student and their family, and ultimately created the Care Packager — a custom trailer that enables students to walk inside, create a wishlist and a video, and send their loved ones a plea for a future care package.

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Connecting to College

INSIGHT

Accessibility isn’t a limit on design, it makes it better for a wider audience

Of all the goals of the Meijer Care Packager, connecting with students today in a way that motivates engagement and provides a shareable conversation piece, rose to the top of the list. To do this, we set out to turn something seemingly mundane, like the necessity of grocery shopping on a student-tight budget, into an entirely new way of interacting.

What kind of name accurately gives people an understanding of its purpose, while most importantly connecting with an 18-22 year old audience? How can people that are standing in line and waiting to enter become a part of the experience? What type of interface helps people quickly identify objects, and get excited about the possibility of them showing up on their doorstep, after doing nothing more than sending a quick video to the folks? These are the types of questions we dug into.

To start to answer these, we embarked on an exploratory discovery period where we worked with the client to identify the goals of the overall initiative, investigate our ideas and assumptions, and, most importantly, design a plan of attack that started to answer them in a variety of new ways.

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Speak the Language

Connecting with a college age audience can be a challenge in and of itself, but possibly not as challenging as transforming an every-day activity into something special, and with an entirely new interaction model.

Uncorked designed multiple iterations of the Care Packager interface, and ultimately landed on a UI inspired by spiral bound notebooks and college student penmanship. With a physical space and a sizable touchscreen, it felt important to make interactions about how a person looks at and touches real objects while shopping. Each word, button, and wishlist option was photographed carefully at Uncorked’s studio and digitally cut to let the software arrange the art with code. This allowed users to immediately identify objects and choose them, akin to grabbing products off shelves in a grocery store.

SKILLS


Product Value / Differentiation Mapping


Go-To-Market Planning


Interactive & Physical Prototyping


Hardware Development


 


Interaction Design


Brand Partnership


Environment Design and Digital Installation


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Built for Context

To create an immersive Care Packager experience inside the Meijer Trailer, we built a Mac app using Sprite Kit, a framework designed for hardware-accelerated 2D graphics rendering and animations. We also spun up a back end to integrate with the app, keep track of its data, and send custom emails to the would-be care package senders.

One challenge unique to this project was building fault tolerance into the app to address the need for significant bandwidth for video upload, while having variable and unknown network conditions given that the trailer is a mobile structure. A MiFi cellular hotspot was installed in the trailer and a variety of queuing, background processing, and fail-over safety nets were baked into the app to keep it responsive and filming new videos while continuing to handle the video and wish list data uploads behind the scenes.

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A Mobile Meijer

Outside of its ability to transform a space for an entirely new purpose, the trailer that was designed in partnership with ENGIN Creative also afforded an incredible amount of convenience. Keeping in mind the ultimate goal of Meijer, which is to take this experience to different college campuses around the country, the idea of mobility quickly became, and stayed, top of mind.

To ensure the smoothest possible transition from location to location, and remove as many potential variables as possible, we partnered with Advantage Trailer, a mid-west trailer specialist, to create the vehicle for the Meijer Care Packager.

This idea of convenience permeated every aspect of the project, whether it was choosing the location of the trailer build out, or creating an experience that allows college age students to easily identify what they need, and give their folks a quick and simple way to get it to them.

SUCCESSES


Rolled it out at a large university launch event


Successfully coordinated a remote fabrication


Built a transportable system that could be managed remotely


ADA-friendly physical design