Kraft and Intel Transform Product Sampling


When Kraft recently launched Temptations, a new line of desserts for Adults, it also transformed how its products are sampled by consumers.  In the process, Kraft created a worldwide buzz about both Temptations snack packs and its new automated sampling technology.  

With Kraft’s new iSample Experience “smart” vending machine, product sampling enters the 21st century.  Intel® Audience Impression Metrics (AIM) Suite provides the intelligence to automatically deliver the right sample to the right person, anytime and anywhere.  Now, in tests at The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and the South Street Seaport in New York, Kraft’s iSample vending machine may well be the wave of the future in product sampling.  


Brands use product sampling to gauge consumer interest in potential new products prior to release, and to gain awareness and increase preference when they launch new products. Retailers often conduct sampling before allocating valuable shelf space to new products.  Until recently, sampling has remained virtually unchanged since its inception. In-store or temporary employees distribute small samples to consumers, highlighting the features and benefits and observing responses.  It’s an expensive, labor-intensive process and the consumer impressions collected are purely subjective. 

Vending machines could be used to automate the process, reduce costs and extend the range of locations where sampling can take place. But without a person on-site to observe consumer responses, how do you gauge the product’s appeal?  


When Intel AIM Suite was launched in 2011, Kraft now had the answer. Intel AIM Suite enables Kraft to determine the gender and age range of a consumer standing in front of the iSample vending machine and serve up a sample most likely to appeal to them.  It’s an ideal solution for a new product line intended strictly for adults.  AIM Suite empowers Kraft to automate the entire sampling process, from delivering the right sample to the right person to reporting the results.

Intel AIM Suite has privacy protection built-in. No images are recorded and no personal information is collected. Information about consumer usage patterns is aggregated by gender and age range. Consumers remain completely anonymous.   

AIM Suite uses an optical sensor to distinguish the shape of a human face and then carries out a series of calculations based on measurements such as the distance between the eyes, nose and ears.

"It's actually very quick - it's a fraction of a second," according to Michelle Tinsley, Intel's General Manager of Personal Solutions. "We have trained the software to do this via machine learning on a bunch of pictures of human faces.”

iSample then serves a snack from the Temptations line predetermined to mostly likely appeal to their gender and age group. Except in the case of children, who are excluded from the trial with an amusing message: "Sorry, kid. You’re too young to experience an indulgence like this. Please step away so the adults can get their free treat."


From the perspective of consumer awareness alone, the trials have been a major success.  The iSample story has gone viral, reaching far more people than those who have actually sampled Temptations snacks.  The BBC, Time Magazine and The Times of India are among hundreds of media and trade press stories with a positive, if somewhat humorous, take on iSample’s ability to deny children a cup of pudding and serve adults only. 

"We only have two iSample machines in the U.S. so far, as this is a test and we’ll learn from the experience," said Ed Kaczmarek, Director of Innovations and Consumer Experiences at Kraft. "Our ultimate goal is to bring value to both our retailers and our brands by better understanding consumer engagement with our products. “We can do so much more with the iSample program. Tied to specific marketing campaigns, we can customize the experience in order to reach out to consumers more efficiently."

The Intel AIM Suite service can be retrofitted to existing vending machines to enable companies to study what types of people are buying their products. The service is also being widely integrated into digital signs and nearly anywhere, out of home, where companies want to understand consumer behavior. They’re using AIM Suite to grow brand awareness, advertise products and services, conduct in-store campaigns, provide public information and deliver content to the right target audience.

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