STAMFORD, Conn. -- The well-publicized announcement of interactive supermarket shopping has received mixed reviews.
After Time Warner Cable here unveiled supermarket and pharmacy shopping on its Full Service Network in Orlando, Fla., the responses of marketing consultants and brand marketers ranged from dismissive to enthusiastic.
Using technology provided by ShopperVision, a retail space-management company in Norcross, Ga., the experimental network's 4,000 subscribers will be able to examine and buy packaged goods without leaving their homes.
The system presents colored, three-dimensional images of supermarket gondolas as well as individual products that the consumer can fully rotate to examine the information on the package.
Viewers will select from an inventory that corresponds in price and selection to a local supermarket and pharmacy. Time Warner is said to be considering Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., as a potential partner, but officials from both organizations declined to comment.
The Full Service Network will premier this spring, and Time Warner expects to add ShopperVision's services during the fall.
While interactive television is widely seen as a viable outlet for high-end consumer products, some brand marketers doubted it will become an effective marketing vehicle.
"We're all going to have to work with this new technology," said a manufacturer who asked not to be named, "but I think it'll take much longer than anyone anticipates."
"Consumer habits change very slowly," agreed a marketing consultant who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "They adapt much more slowly than the people who want to push them in different directions, especially with food products."
Others questioned the system's ability to satisfy the consumers' need for hands-on product selection.
"Interactive marketing will be led by higher-interest purchases like cars," said another manufacturer who asked not to be named. "But it will be much more difficult to take the entire grocery shopping experience and make it interactive.
Still, several market observers were encouraged by the system's swift maturation.
"Marketers and advertisers should understand that a large number of supermarkets won't exist by the year 2000," said Carlene Thissen, president of Retail Systems Consulting, Chicago. "So they will have to learn to market their products electronically."