Proximity Marketing: Big Brother or the Ultimate Consumer Experience?
This past Fall I attended a large music festival called Kaaboo in Del Mar, California. I quickly realized that the venue had enabled proximity marketing through the push notifications that I was receiving on my phone. As I entered a stage area I would get an alert on my phone welcoming me to the Gwen Stefani concert experience. My friends asked, how do they know we are here versus one of the other 20 acts playing? This place is huge! I explained what proximity marketing is and they both quickly disabled their Bluetooth location services and felt creeped out by the “big brother” notion of someone knowing their every move.
What my friends didn’t realize is, while the festival producers were surely collecting big data on each of us, the bigger goal of their proximity marketing efforts was to enhance the experience for attendees. I left mine on and it was actually quite helpful in many instances. When we went into the food area, I got alerts about one of my favorite restaurants being there with lobster rolls. We visited the art gallery and as I was admiring a painting I got an alert about the artist. I had marked on the concert app a band that I wanted to see and because I wasn’t in the area of that stage, I got an alert that they were about to start so I could rush over before missing them. This is a client-centric experience on steroids.
How Proximity Marketing Works
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology-guided beacons are enabled through mobile devices that send messages back to the marketer letting them know where you are, what you like and what engages you. I spoke with a friend and colleague, Mark Vincent, one of the founders of Distractive Media, a pioneer in proximity marketing about how it all works: “We use a combination of technologies including Wi-Fi, BLE, RFID, Cameras, and A/V displays all working together (IoT in a nutshell) to create an end-user experience that is much more personalized than in the past.” He continued, “What’s really cool is we are now using this same methodology and tech that we have been doing at the concerts and working with various political groups during this year’s election events as well.” Proximity marketing is being seen at conferences, in street lamps for local vendors and now even with the 2016 election for candidates to reach the voters.
The Consumers Control Over Proximity Marketing
At an early level, this may seem intrusive, but it is important to understand that many rewards, savings and coupons are on the other side of sharing your info. Retailers profit because they learn what merchandise their consumers are interested in, and ideally, by giving on-the-spot discount coupons, the technology will push shoppers to buy at the store instead of an online merchant. Beacon technology can also help merchants improve how they build their store setup. The product builders, can also get involved by bidding for certain interior store locations and then advertising their products/merchandise with beacons.
For the benefitting of consumers, however, their phones won’t only have to be connected to the Internet, but in most situations, the store app must be opened via Bluetooth in order for the beacon signal to reach them. This latest wave of marketing technology will have great appeal and much success to both consumers and vendors equally.
Those who wish to keep their anonymity, you can guard & protect private information by turning off the Bluetooth technology and opting out of location services in a mobile app. Concerned consumers can learn about a global opt-out at the Smart Store Privacy website.
Many consumers will come to realize that beacon technology is no more obtrusive than store security cameras that can watch our every move, or security guards who are paid to keep their eyes on each of us. For retailers, this could be the next huge breakthrough, creating a better shopping experience for shoppers and an increase in revenues for themselves.
The Wave of the Future
We are only seeing the beginning phases of proximity marketing; this technology will soon be catapulted into the mainstream thanks to Apple’s iBeacon sensor, which can identify a shopper’s phone if it’s an iOS device. When the phone recognizes the beacon, the store’s app is activated, removing the necessity for the shopper to remember to turn on the right app when stepping into a store. Stores that use this technology then have the ability to guide you to a sale on shoes for example, that you didn’t even know existed.
Does proximity marketing work?
- 53% of consumers are willing to share their location for relevant advertising
- 72% of consumers will act on an offer if the retailer is within site (convenience factor)
Macy’s is one of several popular retailers joining the beacon bandwagon. The chain installed over 4,000 “shop Beacon” devices in its locations this fall; their Shopkick application is the pathway to connected Macy’s shoppers.
Whether you are for the ultimate client-centric experience or not, understand the pros and cons of this technology as it is only growing in popularity. Next time you are at a conference and download an app, look out for push notifications on your mobile device and see how they speak to your interests. If you are a vendor or retailer and are interested in learning more about leveraging proximity marketing to reach your target demographic, contact Blue Ocean Principles and find out how we can help maximize a campaign for you!