iBeacon and the wealth of companies popping up around it have technologies for enabling in-store data collection and ad delivery -- interesting because they provide a new avenue for customer interaction that extends the traditional world of shopper marketing. Regardless of whether you feel they are intrusive or not, the question is whether they will truly affect sales.
Retailers try to accomplish two things: increased sales and increased loyalty. If consumers are loyal, they’ll come back repeatedly -- and if they come back more often, you try to increase the size of their cart at checkout. Being able to target consumers while they’re in-store is powerful, because you can suggest products that complement what they’re already looking for and sway them to increase the value of their cart. In-store targeting can enable more impulse buying of products because the context of doing so simply makes sense. Think about it -- how many times have you gone into Target with a shopping list and come out with more than you intended?
The thing to consider is that in-store marketing, by itself, won’t be the solution. If you couple in-store targeting with your messaging to drive people in store in the first
place, you can be extremely successful.
What I like about iBeacon is that it can fulfill the promise made by driving someone from external to internal marketing in the store. For example, if you deliver a circular or a TV ad that poses a specific question or topic, when the consumer arrives she can be prompted to open the app for your brand and engage with it in-store. You can deliver video that provides more information about the topic that was originally presented.
The big “if” in all of this is behavioral. How are you going to ensure high levels of interaction when customers are on the premises? That’s where in-store signage and the education of your in-store staff are important. These tools have to be used to engage consumers and get them involved.
Shopper marketing is a strong value in this situation, which leads me to think digital media buyers and shopper marketing agencies are going to be working together more significantly in the years to come. These two areas are historically the most effective marketing vehicles for CPG and retail brands, and now they are cross-pollinating through digital.
If you work in either of these areas of marketing, it would be smart to branch out and learn about the other very quickly. Learn how one hand can talk to the other and deliver a unified strategy for customer interaction.
What do you think about iBeacon? Interesting or a flash in the pan?