Supermarket giant Mondelēz International is developing “smart shelves” to identify consumers’ age and gender while tracking their shopping habits.
The company (formerly Kraft Foods), which makes Oreos, Trident gum, Wheat Thins, and a host of other snack foods, wants to use the technology — expected to be on supermarket shelves by 2015 — to better target their advertising, The Wall Street Journal’s Clint Boulton reports.
“When people walk by, it’s a missed opportunity,” Mondelēz CIO Mark Dajani told the Journal. “We must know how the consumer behaves in the store.”
Here’s how the technology would work: Sensors would be placed in the aisles where Mondelēz products are displayed. Using facial recognition technology provided by Microsoft’s Kinect, the devices would identify the age and gender of consumers perusing the aisles and track which people are most likely to purchase certain products. The data collected would be sent to Mondelēz in real-time.
“Knowing that a consumer is showing interest in the product gives us the opportunity to engage with them real-time,” Mondelez spokeswoman Valerie Moens said in an e-mailed statement.
The company plans to use the data collected to better target its advertising and discount offers to the groups most likely to buy certain products. The technology could also be used to alert the grocer when it’s time to reorder certain products.
The sensors would not collect any photos, video or other personal information regarding consumers, according to Moens.
“Privacy is of utmost importance, so Smart Shelf is completely anonymous and peoples’ images are not saved,” she said. “The technology compares facial features with proprietary algorithms to determine a person’s gender and approximate age, and it only focuses on adults. We only track gestures to pick up products or what products have actually been picked up.”