Targeting the Mobile Shopper: What's Creepy, Part 2?

A few days ago in this space, I wrote about targeting the mobile shopper and raised the issue of what is creepy. Based on a lot of reader feedback, this topic seemed to hit a nerve.

The issues we mentioned revolved around how to interact with mobile customers as they shop and what would be of value vs. what would be “creepy.”

One reader relayed her unease while shopping at a wine store when a voice urges her to try a wine other than the one she is reaching for in the spirits aisle. She said it makes her want to make her selection quickly and “scurry on.”

Another referred to the idea of customer in-store targeting as “a Frankenstein monster that we should collectively create with care.”

One astutely suggested that it’s not creepy if you don’t sneak up on people.

There seems to be a race and a fine line between the technological advancements that will allow all kinds of in-aisle customer interaction and the amount and type of interactions those shoppers will not only feel comfortable with but also find valuable.



The decade-old promise of offering deals to customers as they get near the store has long been a practical capability, from a technological standpoint. But it is really about the customer behavior and acceptability that will drive the widespread adoption.

There are now technologies that can capture customer data as they use a store’s free in-store Wi-Fi (See “Technology Lets Retailers Tap Into Shopper Behavior Via Wi-Fi” below).

The aggregate customer data a company will be able to capture from mobile shoppers can be used to provide even greater, real-time value to customers, when done properly.

This can be viewed by a marketer as the ultimate intelligence tool, a data-collection dream come true. The question is how different mobile shoppers will see it.

This issue of what is highly valued vs. what is creepy to mobile shoppers will evolve and be resolved over time.

Meanwhile, I would be interested in your thoughts and comments on this topic and any examples you would consider either creepy or highly valued in mobile commerce. What would you view as most creepy?

4 comments about "Targeting the Mobile Shopper: What's Creepy, Part 2?".
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  1. Timothy Allen from Ephrata Review, January 25, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.

    When I told my wife about current capabilities she was almost simultaneously creeped out and excited. Creeped came slightly ahead of excited that a coupon to Children's Place could miraculously appear. Sounds like it might just take getting used to. And some might decide to go off the grid entirely. It comes down to which is more highly valued- privacy or opportunity?

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 25, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.

    Thanks Timothy, interesting dichotomy, and may ultimately come down to person-by-person. Not sure many consumers are even slightly aware of what's coming.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 25, 2013 at 4 p.m.


  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 25, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.

    Right, Paula, just a bit behind schedule.

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