For years stores have been tracking consumers as they move through the aisles. Shopper never seemed to notice or care. More recently though, as stores have begun tracking shoppers through their mobile phones, consumers (and the FTC) have been paying attention-and they don’t like it. In fact, a recent Opinion Lab survey of 1,000 consumers showed that, 77% of shoppers do not want stores to track their movements via smartphone and 43% of shoppers are less likely to shop at a favorite retailer if the brand implements a tracking program.
Why do consumers feel that mobile tracking is somehow more offensive than video surveillance or on line tracking? The first issue is that because it is linked to our phone, and because we like to have our phones with us at all times (according to International Data Corporation, 79% of Americans have their smartphone on or near them for all but two hours of the day) we have no ability to choose privacy without giving up connectivity. In addition, the combination of surveillance coupled with geolocation feels particularly invasive. We don’t seem to mind (or we have succumbed to) being stalked and tracked through cyberspace but there is still resistance to offline tracking.
What consumers don’t quite seem to understand, is that at least for now, stores that are using geolocation are not identifying particular consumers. So at least for now, in-store tracking is no more invasive than old-fashioned video surveillance and in fact, is probably less invasive because there is no visual attached to the data. Knowing this, and assuming that in-store tracking remains limited to those parameters, with enough information, will consumers be willing to accept in-store tracking? [Read more…]