Beacons In Business: 3% Using, 11% Testing, 31% Planning; 56% Take A Pass

The potential upsides of beaconing are pretty well known.

The small radio-transmitting devices in a store can provide a pretty good idea that a person is in a certain department.

An ad, coupon or other message could be sent to the phones of shoppers who want such things or the location data could be passively captured by a marketer for various uses later.

As in most major technology implementation, there’s another side of the picture.

The reality is that only 3% of businesses are using beacons, while another 11% are piloting them, based on a new report from Forrester, appropriately subtitled Beacons Aren’t Always the Answer.

More than half (56%) of companies have no plans to test or use beacons, according to Forrester’s online global survey of 3,600 adults. Here’s the status of the others in terms of their beacon usage:

  • 31% -- Planning to test/use
  • 11% -- Currently piloting/testing
  • 3% -- Regularly using

And to the potential challenges of beacons, Forrester identified five:

Expectations. Too many businesses expect too much of the technology and improperly tuned and placed beacons do not deliver enough accuracy.

BLE is immature. Bluetooth is established, but Bluetooth Low Energy is still somewhat of a work in progress.

Beacons not equally flexible. Apple iBeacon, Google’s and Radius have many differences, limiting flexibility.

Implementation costs. The cost of beacons can appear to be low but hardware cost is a red herring. Implementations have to include operational costs.

Controls and security.Bluetooth Low Energy has a higher level of risk compared to other wireless technologies.

This doesn’t mean that businesses, most notably retailers, should skip beaconing, since the consumer behaviors associated with location identification are evolving.

Those that don’t at least find out what does and doesn’t work for their particular customer set will be a major step behind as the Internet of Things moves forward.


The MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum is being held Aug. 3 in New York. Check it out the agenda here

9 comments about "Beacons In Business: 3% Using, 11% Testing, 31% Planning; 56% Take A Pass".
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  1. Matthew Davis from Reveal Mobile, June 14, 2016 at 9:48 a.m.

    More 3rd party stats on beacons always welcome. Chuck - any idea how Forrester qualified this? "according to Forrester’s online global survey of 3,600 adults".  Were these adults that run digital teams at major retailers or brands, SMBs, random people across the US?  Thanks!

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, June 14, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    The survey included resondents from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India New Zealand, UK and US from companies with two or more employees. The final survey population contains only those with signficant involvement in the planning, funding and purchasing of business and technology products and services. Hope that helps, Matthew.

  3. lee Barnfield from ONE UK Ltd, June 14, 2016 at 11:41 a.m.

    Beacons are just beacons, you need to engage with the customer and to do that they need an APP that shows value.  Bluetooth will (IMHO) never work as effective as a wireless device, our stats have proven this and our global customer gives testament to this also.  Time will tell, interesting times ahead.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, June 14, 2016 at 11:44 a.m.

    Well said, Lee, which is one of the reasons beacons have not yet achieved mass adoption. It's all about the communication and engagement. And yes, Bluetooth can only accomplish so much.

  5. Matthew Davis from Reveal Mobile replied, June 14, 2016 at 1:21 p.m.

    Agreed - beacons can only do so much, but it's not an "either/or" situation. Beacons are one of many tools available to marketers to add value to their apps. Chuck - thanks for the follow up answers. Globally, those numbers feel right. We'll look forward to follow up data on US / EU adoption, which I'd posit is higher than 3%.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 14, 2016 at 2:03 p.m.

    Right, Matthew, longer term projects peg the number at around 400 million to be installed.

  7. Jesus Pastor from Seeketing, August 18, 2016 at 3:01 p.m.

    I agree with the article, but you dont mention the real problem that ibeacon have:
    Less than 1% of visitors meet the three requirements to be detected by iBeacons: that an App be installed, that the device be equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, and that the Bluetooth be turned on.
    So other technologies that exist even before than ibeacons are being used instead of ibeacons.
    For example Seeketing nodes are used in airports, shopping center or big retailers that previously have tested ibeacon without success.

    So the proximity marketing is alive without ibeacons, and better and new exciting features are available with Seekwting technology, for example you can send messages to smartphones by proximity without App or bluetooth enabled.

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 18, 2016 at 3:07 p.m.

    Right, Jesus, we have frequently written about this, so our regular readers are pretty familiar already.

  9. Jesus Pastor from Seeketing, August 19, 2016 at 4:31 a.m.

    Ah, sorry to repeat information.
    Have you information about Seeketing Nodes?

    People interested in ibeacons will like to read more:

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