Kraft Kiosk Facial Recognition Tests Marketing Limits

Written by Evan Schuman
February 17th, 2011

Kraft Foods is experimenting with a grocery store kiosk that uses facial recognition to determine a consumer’s gender—and other things—and then to recommend products for dinner. But the kiosk also integrates with a mobile app, where its recommendations can be based on what consumers already planned to buy (shopping list access), and records everything into that customer’s CRM file.

Kraft’s efforts, described in a wonderful CPG Matters piece, is a good look at marketing self-discipline, where a line is drawn between what technology says can be done and what should be done. Put another way, how far can a retailer push it? When does “helpful” morph into “intrusive”? Given that the line is very different for an 18-year-old, a 30-year-old and a 60-year-old and that many grocery chains have a substantial number of customers in all three age groups, that can be a difficult decision to make. The story also talks about other variables the kiosk will consider (such as whether it’s before dinner time or hours after and whether it’s a Friday morning or a Sunday night) and several that it won’t (the facial-recognition software’s guess as to “height, girth or ethnic background”), because they were considered “too creepy.” Whatever happened to the good ole days, when a marketing scheme that wasn’t creepy wasn’t worth doing?


3 Comments | Read Kraft Kiosk Facial Recognition Tests Marketing Limits

  1. Bethany Says:

    If all they’re using facial recognition for is gender, why not just ask the person? Something’s creepy there, indeed.

  2. David Says:

    This seems to be getting close to the Minority Report reality. It’s going to suck when you walk into a store and everything is talking to you at once. When is enough going to be enough. Technology is going to drive us all insane if we aren’t there already.

  3. Richard Nedwich Says:

    I was at NRF and saw this Intel demo. It wasn’t creepy, but a bit intimidating. The ‘kiosk’ is actually the size of a food vending machine! That said, it was fun to try it, and the booth was *packed* with folks lined up to see.

    The catch, in my opinion, is if the intented audience is stopping at the store on the way home from work, they may simply buy pre-made meals, or ‘go to’ meals like pasta and sauce. Seems to me like this service is better suited for the weekly grocery purchases while planning out the menu – not a quick grab on the way home.


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