The U.S. chocolate leader has partnered with agency Wild Blue Technologies and software provider Affectiva to create the interactive Smile Sampler.
The machine dispenses a candy after an iPad with facial recognition software installed recognizes a person smile. The system offers an alternative to a sampling kiosk manned by an employee.
“We think for the confectionery category there is something very nostalgic and fun about it. This is a potential way to bring excitement to center store,” Frank Jimenez, Sr. director insights driven Performance & retail Evolution at Hershey, told ConfectioneryNews.
“Every time someone comes to the store it’s a draw down the candy aisle and there’s a convergence opportunity in it,” he said.
Jimenez added the experience helped increase brand loyalty both for the manufacturer and the retailer as consumers would seek out the aisle to see what is new.
Consumers keen on samples
Hershey conducted extensive research on the shopper’s experience of retail before developing the Sampler.
“In confections, there are a number of things shoppers told us they really liked. They liked lower shelves, no sharp edges, they liked curves and there was an experiential side really coming out. The number one thing they told us is that they like to sample,” said Jimenez.
Hershey will pilot the Smile Sampler with its Hershey’s brand, most likely Kisses, in major retailers.
“Our plan is to move beyond that to new products,” said Jimenez
The Hershey Smile Sampler recognizes faces so will only dispense one sample per person. The system automatically resets after 24 hours, so no personal information is held. Hershey has included a disclaimer on screen to communicate this to users and the Sampler also issues allergen warnings if appropriate.
Skin packaging can be applied to the Sampler so it is easily rebranded for a different product and it takes up a 4ft section in store, said Hershey’s insights expert.
Hershey plans to refresh the branding every four weeks.
Tech partnerships key
The firm yesterday presented the Sampler at the Ad Age Small Agency Conference & Awards in Boston and says big retailers have expressed interest with four already on board.
Hershey partnered with Boston-based emotional sensing and analytics company Affectiva and Wild Blue Technologies to develop the Sampler.
Jimenez said it was fundamental for confectioners to partner with tech startups to stay ahead of the changing technological environment. The first Sampler will be rolled out later this year
In 2013, Hershey competitor Mondelēz International announced plans for video display units near checkouts that estimate a person’s age and gender to deliver targeted advertising.
Jeremy Gutsche, founder and CEO of Trendhunter.com, previously said experiential retail, or ‘Shoppertainment’ as he called it, could excite consumers and reach-out to younger generations who will share their experience online.