Posted by Dale Buss on December 21, 2011 11:01 AM
"There's always room for Jell-O." But Jell-O may not have room for you — at least if you're a kid.
In one of the latest applications of the facial-recognition technology that is intriguing more CPG brands and retailers, Kraft's Jell-O unit is testing a vending machine that doles out free samples of Jell-O's Temptations line.
The catch: you don't get the sample if the machine's Intel-developed facial-recognition optics and software identify you as a child (based on your height) instead of an adult.
Is this a concession to the food police, who don't want children to get near fattening fare even if it means invading their visage privacy? Or is this simply a clever promotional ploy by Kraft, counting on the novelty factor of the facial-recognition feature — and a sense of adult satisfaction and entitlement to an indulgent product aimed at them, as they take advantage of one of the dwindling number of pleasures in this world that are preserved for those of us over 17 years old?
"It has a big gee-whiz factor," Ed Kaczmarek, Kraft's director of innovation and customer experiences, told USA Today. "This is intelligent marketing. We're making certain we get the right sample to the right consumer."
Maybe. Sampling remains the single best way to get consumer trial of a new product, CPG-brand executives say. And a machine like this could reduce the cost and increase the targeting efficacy of many product-sampling efforts.
But at what price? The vending software apparently tells any kid it detects to step away from the Temptations machine, named for the line of upscale, adult-wooing desserts it's dispensing. Still, is that any way to treat a potential future customer?
Seth Godin, for one, is not impressed, telling USA Today, "It's a goofy gimmick, not a useful innovation."