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ARE COOLER SCREENS COOL?

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Well, yes and no. Some say they’re annoying. Others say they sell more product and strengthen brands.

Are Cooler Screens a boon for manufacturers and retailers, providing opportunity for more sales and profitability? Or are they a shopper turn-off? Could they be both?

Cooler Screens on refrigerated and freezer doors show images of where specific products are located behind each door. They’re meant to replace transparent glass doors at retail, and Walgreens is rolling them out in thousands of stores.

KEY BENEFITS CLAIMED

Walgreens’ Cooler Screen showed a beautiful display of ice cream the day I visited, but what was behind the door wasn’t pretty.

The brainchild of Chicago-based startup Cooler Screens, the screens are billed as improving sales and profitability, while also providing advertising opportunities and even help with inventory tracking.

But CNN Business recently reported that shoppers are very unhappy with them and others are piling on. When I Googled “Walgreens Cooler Screens” the other day, I got 250,000 hits.

“Why would Walgreens do this?” asked a shopper on TikTok. “Who on God’s green Earth thought this was a good idea?” Said another, “NOBODY needs TV screens replacing doors in your cooler aisles… Stop.”

But for Walgreens to be continuing with its rollout, something must be working. And it isn’t alone — Kroger, CVS and c-store chains are also trying them on for size. Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé and Kraft Heinz are jumping on board, too.

The digital screens have sensors and motion detectors. When you approach a door, they might make a judgment on your age and gender while also deciding that the day’s hot weather might make you more interested in ice cream. So you might see an ice cream ad. The system can also tell which products you picked up, and even help retailers know when an item is running out of stock, according to Cooler Screens.

According to the company’s website, a leading ice cream built strong brand connections with the system. When I downloaded the specifics, it said the brand used a combination of full-door ads, banner ads and native ads to maximize brand impact and deliver relevant content to consumers at the “moment of truth.”

The brand was not identified, but an illustration showed Breyers products on the doors. The Cooler Screens website said that those exposed to the program (versus non-exposed shoppers) had a 7% increase in brand opinion, a 4% increase in brand consideration, a 12% increase in purchase intent and a 9% increase in net promoter score, based on independent research.

The revenue stream comes from ads that brands pay Cooler Screens to run, with retailers getting a cut. No personal information is collected or sold. The idea is to track the size and demographics of an audience with an eye to helping brands and retailers better serve their shopper bases.

One thing the doors definitely do not do is scan your hands and forehead for “the mark of the beast,” as a viral Facebook post said last December. This conspiracy theory, which seemed tied to COVID anti-vaxxers, was debunked recently by Politifact and it’s disappeared from Facebook.

Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

Warren is the Editor Emeritus, Managing Partner for Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.

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