retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kate McMahon

Planning a perfect tailgate party is similar to devising a winning football offense – a brilliant strategy can be upended by a fumble or a forgotten barbecue spatula/bottle opener/jar of mustard.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Actually, there are several apps for tailgaters on the market, which should get retailers motivated to capitalize on these seasonal cookouts.

And on a more macro level, these apps reaffirm that the smart phone and mobile technology are changing the way we communicate, work and even create our grocery shopping list. As noted in yesterday’s MNB, more stores are hoping to use apps, high tech bar codes called Quick Response Codes and other technologies to enhance the price-comparison and shopping experience. Tech-savvy consumers, particularly twenty- and thirty-somethings whose palms are seemingly glued to their smart phones, will soon expect nothing less.

Of course fans of all ages participate in tailgate parties, which can range from hot dogs on a hibachi to the elaborate banquets at the “holy grail of tailgating” at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

The New York Times recently reviewed the newest tailgating apps, and gave thumbs up to Tailgating, which is free on iTunes for iPhones and iPads. For the app uninitiated, here’s how it works: Instead of actually creating a list, the app downloaded to your iPhone has “pre-loaded” checklists for gear and food, prompting you to remember both the BBQ wings, the tongs required to turn them and paper towels to clean up before kick-off. And beverages, of course.

A similar checklist with 220 pre-loaded items is available on Tailgating Planner, which costs 99 cents for Android. Additionally, you can share your list (and shopping duties) with family or friends through Gmail or Facebook.

The two newest apps, Tailgate Fan and TailgateChamp, are designed more for inviting and organizing guests and posting pictures of the food and festivities, rather than just pre-game preparations.

Fortunately, there is a technological middle-ground for stores seeking to help customers put shopping lists on their handheld without making a huge technological investment. And that is through a website or Facebook page. For example, when I see a tasty recipe on the Whole Foods Facebook page, with one click I can add any or all of the ingredients to a shopping list in my already established “profile page.” That list can be then printed out, emailed or sent as a link to my Blackberry via text message. The Kroger site has a similar recipe-to-shopping list feature, which can be printed out or emailed to smart phones with internet capability.

From tailgating apps to one-click recipe additions to shopping lists, consumers are expecting more and smart retailers should already be trying to meet those expectations. An app or site that helps you remember a key ingredient for your tailgate party or recipe will certainly help you remember the provider.

And that’s a win-win.

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