How much money could they have saved if they did this in a virtual world?

From the WSJ earlier in the week (subscription required…until Rupert sets it free ;-)) comes this article about how a few leading edge consumer products companies are building these elaborate systems to present real people with virtual store shelves.  They can track eye movement and what people are drawn to.  This is important stuff for CPG companies because getting noticed on increasingly crowded store shelves is key to winning market share away from other CPG companies and more often the challenging in house brands from the stores themselves.  It’s what P&G calls “a moment of truth”.
However, after reading through the article, I have to wonder how much money they could have saved if they had done this whole thing in Second Life.  No only could they have saved the cost of all the custom gear and software, but they could get 10x, 100x or even 1000x the number of data points to look at.  Non one would have to be selected to come into the “lab” to be wired up like a monkey and they poke at big displays.  They could stop in on P&G’s island, play a little game (find the hidden Tide box) and then be on their way with a free swiffer (I know, it needs a little work, but you get the point).
Maybe this will be the argument that gets companies like P&G more involved in SL: pure cost savings.  Maybe it will take something more, but the thought of all that depreciating equipment has got to be giving someone nightmares.
A Virtual View of the Store Aisle –






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