iBeacon Beams Up Digital Shopper Marketing

Will in-store ads really make you buy more?  More than “should I invest in these new technologies?,” this is the question many retailers are faced with answering because of the rise of in-store delivery mechanisms, of which iBeacon is highest on the buzz factor.

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?

4 comments about "iBeacon Beams Up Digital Shopper Marketing".
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  1. Terry Heaton from Reinvent21, January 22, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.

    Seriously? Anybody who thinks this is welcome news for consumers to happen upon such a place is deluded. When will the commerce community learn how little tolerance everyday people have for any form of commercial intrusion? The makers of software to block this kind of nonsense will do well, I predict. That smartphone of mine is MY personal property, and I give no one permission to enter my personal space. This is the truth of the Great Horizontal, and businesses will play in this world at considerable risk to their wellbeing. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Go back and read you piece, Cory, and notice your language in justifying this. "Driving someone from external to internal marketing in the store." Who wants to be driven? You dismiss intrusive concerns by suggesting that the only thing that matters is if this annoyance produces sales. I've got news for Madison Avenue: You can't play mass marketing in the network, because people can fight back. It amazes me, Cory, how people ignore TiVo data to justify continuing to harass people with unwanted messages. There is no inalienable right to do so.

  2. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, January 22, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.

    Great points Cory, and definitely high on the radar of retail and CPG. FOr me what is missing from the discussion, and what can make this most valuable over the long-term (and will probably be overlooked by most due to their focus on immediate ROI via larger AOV) is the relationship building capabilities of this technolgy if employed correctly and with Trust, Loyalty, and the resulting Advocacy in mind.

  3. Michael OHara from O'Hara Comany, The, January 22, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.

    Good piece. Terry, Unlike NFC, BLE/iBeacon requires both the download of a product or store specific app and then the opt-in for the store, product or campaign. People will only be getting these messages if, in fact, they want them. The jury is still out on adoption, but this is coming and my guess is that the people who do use it, will love it.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 22, 2014 at 5:40 p.m.

    #1 - Get away from me. Stop following me. It's not your business what I buy, what I look at before I buy.
    #2 - If a merchant has the products a customer wants and needs at the affordable right price, that customer will buy from toothpaste to a Hermes bag. If that merchant can't tell from their inventory, there is another problem. If customer service stinks, there is another problem.
    #3 - iBeacon and its kind can go back under from whatever rock it came. All that information - who is going to control the sale of it and who is going to control you today or next year ?

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