They nicknamed it the Big Brother of Retail, but its name is PRISM.
PRISM stands for Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric and it is a system that, according to the experts, will revolutionize the large-scale retail trade.
Defined by a Consortium among the largest American distribution ones, like Wal-Mart, the main supporter of the project, and by consumer goods companies, among which Coca Cola, Kellog and Procter&Gamble, the PRISM has a sole task: to monitor, through special infrared sensors, the movements of shoppers in a supermarket.
In other words, study the clients, observe how they move while they shop, which products they buy and with which logic. Goal: induce the people to purchase in a scientific way, conveying their attention to the “hottest” areas of the shelf.
“The PRISM constitutes a fundamental tool for companies – affirms Jim Stengel, P&G global marketing officer - because it allows to grasp useful information on the effectiveness of the promotions and on the positioning of the goods.
This way targeted promotions can be realised. Collaboration between retailer and industry is fundamental in that sense”.
Of course, collaboration.
Actually, it is evident that the PRISM turns out to be a double-edged weapon for companies.
Favouring only the distribution, that is able to decide unilaterally the list of the positions to sell to the suppliers.
It is especially the small enterprises that pay for this, since they are less willing to spend staggering sums of money to be positioned in the strategic shelf spots.
“This project though - assures Stephen Quinn , senior vice president of Wal-Mart marketing - will bring tremendous benefits to the development of the layout in the supermarkets, with positive relapses for the consumers, who will enjoy a more and more intriguing and effective purchasing experience”.
To those who doubt the transparency of the operation and the respect of privacy, Quinn assures “The PRISM is a non-invasive study system, a fact confirmed also in the experimental stage. Its function is of sheer monitoring and data revelation.”