David Weinfeld

Exploring the Convergence of Media and Technology

CNBC Highlights Supermarket Biz, Misses Broader Tech Story

I recently watched a special on CNBC about the $500 billion supermarket business. The program highlighted the challenges that retailers and brands face in reaching today’s price-conscious shopper. The show focused significant attention on the changes supermarket store environments are undergoing to better meet their customers’ needs. I felt, however, that CNBC missed a major opportunity to highlight the new technologies impacting customers at shelf-edge.

CNBC discussed the data-mining capabilities of loyalty cards and traffic counters. The special identified the benefits to retailers that these technologies bring, and the fact that the average consumer has no idea how much information is being stockpiled on him as he shops. Extending upon the technology focus from a customer research perspective, CNBC made special mention of Modiv Media, a technology solution that allows customers to price check and purchase products by scanning items with a handheld device.

What I found interesting about the segment is that it made little mention of the smartphone applications and social media integration opportunities that make up the fabric of next generation retail. CNBC didn’t talk about the utilization of check-in applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, or SCVNGR. There wasn’t any mention of AisleBuyer, Location Labs, or Simple Geo, just a few of the startups that are aiming to transform how we interact in the physical world.

In a perfect world CNBC would produce a second segment focused on technology’s transformation of the supermarket industry. Are you surprised to hear that CNBC didn’t make any mention of the growth of digital signage in grocery environments? I sure was. Even though super market digital signage is in its nascent stages, in terms of creativity, strategic framework, and effectiveness, its long-term potential to impact shoppers at the point of decision cannot be denied.

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