Out & About: “Find Your Color” Kiosk

I’m going to try a new series called “Out & About” where I’ll share 11th Screen examples that I find when I’m out and about.  This morning, we were at Walmart and I walked past a small touch screen kiosk suspended at the end of the hair-coloring-products isle.  It looked to be from Clairol (more broadly, probably P&G) and was all about helping customers find their perfect hair color.  Even though I’m not in the market for new hair color, I couldn’t resist playing with it.  My wife helped me with the demo – as you watch this, you’ll see that one of her most endearing qualities is her indecisiveness, which ironically enough, seems to be the primary purpose of this kiosk.

When I first saw this, my instinct was to be happy – that P&G decided to make this, that it was actually interactive, and that they placed it in a retailer like Walmart.  I don’t think that any of those can be overlooked.  But, as we interacted with it, and as I talked to my wife about it (she’s a great individual focus group), and the more I thought about it, the more I determined how unvaluable I thought it was.  I busted out my scorecard and put it to the test.  Here’s what I came up with:

Purpose – The kiosk is billed as an aid to help “Find your color” (specifically, “Find your perfect hair color in just 30 seconds”) when one is undecided on what artificial hair-color to use.  Based on a number of simple questions, the solution delivers on the primary purpose – it outputs the recommended hair color and more importantly, hair products.  But I think it only halfway achieves the primary purpose, being in a retail store like Walmart.  It’s safe to say that the ultimate purpose is to drive purchase, but nowhere in the experience does it encourage the customer to actually buy the products.  It just spits out what products are best for them and leaves it at that.  With a simple coupon, either from the kiosk itself or enabled through a mobile phone short code, P&G would really see how valuable it is because they could actually measure it.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Drama – The kiosk is small, but you can’t fault them for that.  Who knows what drove that decision.  At least it’s a standalone kiosk.  The experience also has a clear call-to-action at the beginning – “Touch to Begin.”  But the biggest problems here are placement and branding.  Not only is it hard to see because its metal casing blends in with the rest of the environment, but it’s positioned right by L’Oreal, the competing products.  If I were the brand manager, this would not sit well with me.  The kiosk should be by the product, no ifs, ands, or buts.  Otherwise, don’t go to the trouble of making it.  And where’s the branding on the actual, physical kiosk?

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Usability – This was very user-friendly.  It was set up like a wizard, where it takes the customer through the experience step-by-step.  For a more decisive person than my wife, it probably delivers on the promise, “Find your color in 30 seconds.”

11th Screen Score:  PASS

Interactivity – This experience was strictly touch screen.  The screen responded well to touch and there was no lag time in touch & response.

11th Screen Score:  PASS

Information – I think they’re selling themselves and the customers short here, limiting the experience to 30 seconds.  I would argue that finding the right hair color product and the right additional hair maintenance products take longer than 30 seconds.  I did some digging on the two products in the demo – Clairol and Pantene – and their websites are rich with information and experience.  They’re filled with interactive tools and expert videos and live chat consultations – both impressive sites.  All of these interactive, supporting tools tell me that my argument might be on point.  Now, Walmart is not necessarily the salon or boutique where customers would want to spend longer looking for products and more interested in the entire experience.  But it wouldn’t take much effort to include some of the richer, more interactive tools found on their websites here in this kiosk.  I think it would improve the experience greatly and provide more value to the customer.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Personalization – The experience is centered around a level of personalization by asking each user a series of questions to give them a custom answer.  The shortcoming is that it treats everyone as if they’re first-time users, first-time hair-colorers, which is probably the primary audience anyway.  Those who use these products already know what they want and/or will spend time talking to a professional stylist, not an electronic kiosk.

11th Screen Score:  PASS

So, as much as I wanted to be happy, those feelings are now tempered.  I can’t say that I see value in the solution.  I just don’t see how this can drive sales enough to move the needle.  Maybe to raise awareness, but not necessarily in these products.  It enables customers to find the right kind of products, but not the right products, which of course is Clairol and Pantene….and anything else hair-related by P&G.  In the end, they would have been better off duplicating their website experience here on the kiosk.  Then, I might be singing a different song.

What do you think of this experience?  Do see more value in it than me?  I’d love to hear from you.

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