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Be Seeing You: Welcome to Creepy Town

Peter Reville |

I think we’re getting a little closer to understanding how consumers define creepy—in the personal tracking sense, that is.  A recent article in CNN Money on tracking in-store shopping behavior cites a study commissioned by consumer feedback company OpinionLab. Three-quarters of respondents (77 percent) report that in-store tracking—retailers’ ability to locate where you are in their stores and serve up deals and offers to your smartphone in real time—was not acceptable. On top of that, 81 percent don’t trust retailers to keep their private data safe and secure. Too creepy.

Now contrast that with an initiative the Global Insights Team at MasterCard undertook called 5 Personas. This looked at consumers’ attitudes towards sharing data, being tracked while shopping online and towards the value of their personal data.  In fact, fully 64 percent believe their personal data has value to merchants and advertisers. And for the most part, they are OK with shopping sites using personal data to facilitate the shopping experience.

Let’s try to connect the dots. I think the tipping point on the creepy meter lies somewhere between the online experience with some semblance of anonymity, and the in-store tracking experience which pulls back the veil of anonymity even further. Despite the drive to omnichannel retailing and a unified shopping experience, consumers see the two experiences as different and have different expectations of each.

This takes us to the iBeacons and ShopKicks of the world. Their promise is to track consumers in store and then deliver up proximity-relevant deals and offers, among other things. If my hypothesis is right, they’ve moved into Creepy Town.

Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Payments Strategy, Retail Trends

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