Mobile Shoppers & Privacy vs. Relevant Offers

Mobile location capabilities are evolving into presenting what could be an intriguing challenge for retailers.

The last question in a survey we wrote about here last week (Smartphones Give 69% a Better Shopping Experience) dealt with which of two approaches by retailers is more desired by smartphone shoppers and the answer poses an interesting dilemma.

Smartphone owners were asked which was more important: retailers respecting their privacy or retailers presenting them with relevant offers.

The results were essentially split, with slightly more than half (53%) saying retailers respecting their privacy was more important and almost half (47%) saying presenting relevant offers matters more.

"A 53/47 split overall is a dead heat,” said Greg Girard, program director retail Insights at IDC, which conducted the study. “That leaves retailers with a one in two chance of missing an opportunity to be relevant and the same odds of offending a shopper. Success is all about context, and with each consumer setting his or her own, retailers need better individualized insight to improve their odds of success."  

And that’s the challenge for retailers: walking the fine line between respecting privacy and presenting relevant offers.

While one consumer may perceive a particular offer to be of value, another consumer may view that same offer as an intrusion of their privacy.

Consumer reaction could be based either on the information or the perceived means the merchant used to be able to provide such a targeted message.

While individual shopper targeting is getting more precise technically, such as with low energy beacons that can transmit location, that same targeting poses challenges based on each person being reached.

This is not a totally new issue, as we’ve written about here in the past (The Cool vs. Creepy Scale in Mobile Shopping), though the IDC research suggests a split consumer viewpoint, making it even more critical for retailers to get it right.

The issue comes down to reaching the right consumer with the right message at the right time without crossing the privacy line.

And that may be easier said than done.

2 comments about "Mobile Shoppers & Privacy vs. Relevant Offers".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, January 21, 2014 at 8:29 a.m.

    This is a false choice. Shoppers don't need to identify themselves in order to receive relevant offers. For example I have a Waitrose store card but it's definitely not in my name. Also my company collects and used behavioral data for marketing, without needing to know the identity of shoppers.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 21, 2014 at 11:59 a.m.

    Not sure about the false choice meaning, Pete, since most of the legit targeting activity by companies is by opt-in. there are, of course, companies that aggregate data based on shopping and traffic patterns.

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