Pavlov’s Kisses

Big business marketers, being in the anti-rationality trade, see their targets not only as “targets,” but as animals-in-training.

Consider, then, this contraption, the Hershey Smile Sampler:

Hershey machine

This thing is installed in grocery store aisles, and dispenses a candy when somebody smiles into its facial-recognition camera. Part of a trend called “shoppertainment,” such devices boost brand loyalty to their owners’ wares. How much marketing data gets derived from the facial images of the creatures who salivate on cue remains to be disclosed.

Ad Age reports on the logic of the Dr. Pavlovs behind the Smile Sampler:

The kiosk took up precious retail space, but retailers loved it because it drove foot traffic and loyalty, and for a brand like Hershey, giving up space was worth it if it meant means getting people down the aisle and driving just one potential sale, said Mr. Jimenez. “If I can get more impressions at retail that’s extremely valuable for us, expecially in a category that [benefits from] unplanned purchases. This experience allows us to do that. Retailers even offered to give us more space because of the idea.”

Wild Blue Technologies, which worked with Hershey on the push, validated the effort by asking people to tell them if they’d come back and use the “smile” machine and technology again. “We’re talking about validating qualitative [behavior] and using tech for that,” said Steve McLean, president of Wild Blue Technologies. “They were giving us realtime feedback. They said, yes I’d make those 20 paces for this treat.”

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