The White House may be asking food marketers to be responsible when it comes to marketing to kids, but the snack food industry still needs to keep increasing its profits. Mondelez International, the company that owns brands like Chips Ahoy and Ritz, is going about it in an intrusive and rather creepy way. This is something you need to be aware of.
The Washington Post reports that the company plans “to debut a grocery shelf in 2015 that comes equipped with sensors to determine the age and sex of passing customers.”
How creepy is that? It’s all in the name of helping the consumer, of course. The company just wants to get the right product into the hands of the right consumer. They want to help people who are undecided on whether they should buy a package of chocolate chip cookies to choose to throw those cookies in their cart.
Here’s how it may work: You’re in the cookie aisle. You pick up a box of cookies. A tiny camera, probably hidden, will scan your facial features for your age and sex. A computer will quickly determine if you’re a good target. The spying camera realizes you’ve been standing there for a minute. A sensor on the shelving picks up a change in weight. You obviously have cookies in hand but haven’t put them in your cart yet. Oh no! You need help making a choice! A screen may start playing a commercial for the cookies or a coupon machine may spit a little money saving incentive to help you out.
It’s important that we’re aware of insidious marketing schemes like this. It’s good to know when you’re being targeted; it helps you to make informed decisions. I also think that as consumers, we do have the power to influence the stores we shop in. If this is something that makes you uncomfortable, let stores know.
Consumers are able to effect change at stores. Because of demanding consumers, many grocery store chains have pledged not to carry genetically engineered salmon if it receives FDA approval. Starbucks agreed to take carmine, a natural food dye, out of its products after vegans and other consumers realized it was made from bugs. If consumers are insistent enough, stores will listen.
Will you be letting the grocery stores that you shop in know that you don’t want big snack food watching you while you shop?
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