Shopper Friendly

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Even the weariest, most distracted shopper will have a difficult time ignoring some of in-store marketing's newest gadgets, including floors that talk, messages that swoop down from the ceiling and motion sensors that trigger on-shelf light shows.

One of the most high-tech options is a new wireless hand-held device from Symbol Technologies, Holtsville, N.Y. The Portable Shopping System device is issued to a consumer upon entering the store. It can scan the price of any product, giving the shopper a running total on purchases; the screen also points out discounts on nearby products and suggests complementary purchases based on the shopper's choices.

The device can upload shopping lists sent by the consumer via the Internet, and can let a shopper know when prescriptions, photos or deli orders are ready during the shopping excursion. It's currently being tested in six Stop & Shop stores in the Northeast and in some Chicago area Jewel stores, with wider deployment expected this summer.

Floorgraphics, a leading marketer of decals that adhere to supermarket floors to promote specific brands, is introducing its first talking floor ad. Audio commercials are triggered when customers step on a designated spot. Deals with several major brand marketers are pending, says Richard Rebh, CEO of Floorgraphics, based in Princeton, N.J.

Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Mountain Dew will be one of the first brands to benefit from Kent, Conn.-based Crew Design's Visi-strobe. The motion-activated device triggers individual beverage containers to light up in bright green from inside store refrigerators when consumers walk by, says Gil Aviles, one of the partners behind Visi-strobe. It was tested last summer on bottles of Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper at convenience stores in the Southwest.

Even store ceilings are being deployed in the war to get consumers' attention. The new SkyBox from Island Display, Lewisville, Texas, can shine brand messages by turning existing light fixtures into backlit billboards for advertising or point-of-purchase promotions.

Most of the latest innovations are not yet linked with marketers, but are likely to hit store aisles over the next six months.

"Whether it's supermarkets or drugstores or convenience stores, each one is a media channel vying for the consumer's attention," Mr. Aviles says, "and in-store marketing devices are the most effective way to do that."

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