Is This the Future of Free Samples?

   By drodriguez  Apr 12, 2012

The next time you find yourself searching for the sample table at your local grocery store, you may stumble upon a different way of trying out new products. What used to be handed to us on a toothpick or in a mini plastic cup may soon be doled out to us from a vending machine that is smart enough to know our age and gender.

An article from USA Today reports about the new sampling machine introduced by Kraft Foods a few months ago.

The first vending machines were introduced in Chicago where grocery store customers could retrieve free samples of Jell-O Temptation’s mousse-like dessert. The Jell-O samples were meant for adults only and is equipped with a camera that can scan a customer’s face in order to detect their age. If a child were to step up for a taste, the machine would automatically shut down.

Though the new machines do not save photos or videos of customers, it does compare and store the data it retrieves. Creators of the machine say they are working on a way to get the machines to also measure a person’s reaction to the sample by determining whether they are smiling or not.

Director of the Platt Retail Institue, Steven Keith Platt, was excited when he heard about this innovative new way to try products. Platt jokingly said, “This is wow. I'll now have the ability to interact with a cool device that dispenses a unique product vs. walking up to some old lady with a white apron on.”

What do you think of the idea of retrieving your food sample in the grocery store from a vending machine?

Do you think vending machines are a better way for customers to sample products in the grocery store?

Make a Comment

mintmom by mintmom | Louisville, KY
Apr 14, 2012

I don't like this idea, it seems like such a waste of money. How hard is it to just walk up to a table and take a sample from a person and go on about your business? Most of the people working at the sample tables are senior citizens from my experience. I'm not sure if it"s a paid job or they volunteer but either way it is providing a benefit for them so why take that away? I'm all for technology and advancement but not when it's pointless.

basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Apr 13, 2012

Hadn't heard of it. Something to think about. Thanks for posting about it.

mdist7 by mdist7 | SOUTH HAVEN, MI
Apr 13, 2012

kind of mixed feelings on this will probably take off in major cities just because of the new world of technology, but not sure i love the idea yet.

mardel by mardel | SCHAUMBURG, IL
Apr 13, 2012

I love this idea! Its a great way to advertise a product while giving the customer a chance to try the post before we buy. I live in Chicago and I hope I see it at my grocery store soon! Thanks

SmartyKitty by SmartyKitty | PHOENIX, AZ
Apr 13, 2012

I prefer this idea. I really hate going to the grocery store and getting harrassed by someone to try a product. Some of them just dont know when to let it go, if I want to try it, I just want to try it and not really have someone try to sell me on it. At least the machine wont get insulted when I decide it's product is really gross

zenfulwoman by zenfulwoman | West Babylon, NY
Apr 12, 2012

I prefer the freshness like Costco for my samples. God knows what can happen to the machines if no one is watching.

BrendaCG by BrendaCG | ATHENS, GA
Apr 12, 2012

I like this idea. Would be a great way to try products and buy while I was there.

heavenly41 by heavenly41 | PORTLAND, OR
Apr 12, 2012

How about dispensing free coupons from the machines. I know how excited I get when I get free food/product coupons in the mail. Some things shouldn't be changed. One of them the mail system (which it sounds like they are still trying to eliminate more. Could be wrong). BUT if it's free candy samples like brand sites do or sm. products such as soap bars, or free can/20 oz bottle. Usually companies will promote full size samples when they give them away and a vending maching would also not be roomy enough for all the free stuff people will go for. Could you also imagine the temper flare ups? Wow. But this is my opinion only.

wagarific918 by wagarific918 | Barnegat, NJ
Apr 12, 2012

The lack of engaging customers is what this will give consumers. I like to interact with people offering samples, ask their opinions, find out what is so great about the product...The machine will take away engagement and not to mention jobs...that little old lady wearing a white apron that another member talked about...just lost her's kind of sad :(

cristinab by cristinab | south hill, VA
Apr 12, 2012

that sounds like a great idea but im not sure its going to work for most esp those that needs to be cooked and fresh. but would love to see a vending maching that gives out samples and i would be excited to see one.

loveandcoffee by loveandcoffee | ALBION, NY
Apr 12, 2012

I would rather get a free sample from an actual person if I wanted it. Not being able to see the product until it comes out doesn't appeal to me. Usually when I do get a sample I strike conversations up with the people giving them out. I'd rather not talk to a vending machine.

raqueta by raqueta | NORTH CHICAGO, IL
Apr 12, 2012

Maybe if the vending talked, I would like it more. Nothing greater than enjoying a free samplw while the little lady in the apron gives me a history about the product. Good idea though, brilliant machine.

Apr 12, 2012

This could be bad or good in ways. Not sure what I think about it just yet.

rosepowell by rosepowell | FREDERICKSBRG, VA
Apr 12, 2012

What a neat idea, I presume thoug that it'll be very expensive to maintain and upkeep though.

marnierily by marnierily | S El Monte, CA
Apr 12, 2012

I dont like this at all... I enjoy talking to the prople giving out the samples, and If I have a question I can ask it. Plus I know that its sanitary. The people wear gloves and give you little cups. who knows how many people will be touching that machine with their sick dirty hands. No Thank You. I will stick to the Human Sample dispenser.