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

Kay3131 by Kay3131 | New York, NY
Apr 12, 2012

I like to see the freshness/cleanliness of the sample I'm about to eat or use.... so not knowing the cleanliness/maintenance of what's in the machine would greatly limit the types of products (no food or cosmetics) I would sample from it.

Tweentie by Tweentie | ST PETERSBURG, FL
Apr 12, 2012

I like the idea of getting a free sample but I don't know if I would enjoy getting it from a vending machine.... maybe it would be like the Coke machines in Singapore... where we would have to give it a hug for the free Coke.

hugsnkisses by hugsnkisses | Montclair, CA
Apr 12, 2012

I can see this a public event, state fair etc, I don't i would bother checking it out at my local grocery store when I'm in a hurry.

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
Apr 12, 2012

Although I like free samples, (who doesn't?) I have mixed reactions to this. While doling out the samples out of a machine is fine with me, I don't know if I like the idea of the machine recording my reaction.

abbygabbie by abbygabbie | MANOR, PA
Apr 12, 2012

I think this is a GREAT idea. People LOVE to try things before they buy them. And the vending machine will make sure people can't come up & take the whole stack of samples leaving none for anyone else. Great idea!

Alyce1363 by Alyce1363 | FRANKFORT, KY
Apr 12, 2012

It may play well on the east and west coasts but in middle America, I do not think that it will be popular. Of course, now we have vending machines for cupcakes and DVDs. Several years ago, I would probably have not found either of these two ideas plausible!

rkosully by rkosully | DOTHAN, AL
Apr 12, 2012

This particular vending machine is very attractive--I'm not sure too many companies would be willing to make an investment like that, or where all those vending machines would fit in the store. But I like the idea!

shannagebhard by shannagebhard | STILLWATER, MN
Apr 12, 2012

I don't like this too much either. If it's a food sample all who want a taste should be able to get at taste. I would be irritated if the machine told me my child could not sample jello products because it was this sample is only for adults. And who decides if you are an adult? A machine? Based on wrinkles or age sings of your face? That's not right. What if I am a midget? Is it going to say I'm a child based on body size? I do not see this as a good thing. More of a frusterating thing.

Phishant by Phishant | CHESWICK, PA
Apr 12, 2012

I think this idea is right in line with the tech world we are living in today. I do think it wil take a while before it is popular. I see this being used in LA or NY but not Iowa or Kansas.

krystlbear by krystlbear | GREEN CV SPGS, FL
Apr 12, 2012

I don't like this idea. I don't think that vending machines are a better way for customers to sample. I like being able to go to the grocery store and talk to someone who is having me sample something. I like them telling me about the product.