I was wandering through the Wal-Mart shaving aisle and I noticed a screen dangling from the ceiling and positioned over the customers. There was a bright light and a red recording notification the would flash from time to time.
My first thought was security because the electric shavers are rather expensive so I walked around the store and couldn’t find another setup like this (although there are plenty of security cameras throughout the store).
Then I remembered a New York Times article about video taping customers to understand eye movement, patterns, gender differences and contemplation moments. Seemed like just the spot: There are hyper selection in this area and your eye doesn’t seem to know where to look first.
Cameras are used throughout stores to track shopper movement. For the most part this is just bits of information that are analyzed in the aggregate to make decisions of product placement, service encounters and sales areas. For some, this is a huge invasion of privacy as you are recorded during your decision-making. It’s no different that analyzing click path streams and watching viewer behavior online.
As technology progresses, this video surveillance will only get more and more sophisticated and harder to spot. The large rich companies are doing it now, but it should be used by others: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video or actual behavior at the point of purchase is worth a ton of words.