Kraft Kiosk Facial Recognition Tests Marketing Limits

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?