As a kid, I remember my favorite part of grocery shopping was the motion-censored coupon dispensers placed in aisles. These amazed me as I passed by my favorite sugary cereal and out shot a coupon for the very product I was begging my mom to buy eyeing.

Now, 20 years later, retail companies are announcing technologies with the ability to engage consumers in real-time, all while gathering specific information on customer behaviors and demographics.

Mondelēz International recently announced its idea for “smart shelves,” which it hopes to bring to market in 2015. Using motion-tracking technology to scan facial features, the shelves would determine an approximate age and gender of the customers and then use this information to target them with specific ads and coupons.

“Our goal is to understand how shoppers see, scan, spot, show interest and select products from the shelf in the store,” said a spokeswoman for Mondelēz in an article on “We can also engage and influence the purchase decision by delivering a targeted shopper experience. For example, we can deliver audio or play a video based on demographics, distance and even the time of the day.”

Understanding consumer behaviors using “smart shelf” technology would help retailers connect the dots between what influences store-level purchasing decisions and the demographics of their shoppers. Using this information, stores can determine what works and what doesn’t, leading to increased sales and a greater ROI.

Putting the benefits for retailers aside, I know if this technology was available when I was younger, my parents would have had a tough time dragging me out of the store!



Lauren Irwin is an Account Coordinator for Airfoil, an integrated marketing communications firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong.  Follow Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenIrwin