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Aug 14

Beacons – Shoppers still don’t want to be tracked by stores

Surprise, surprise: consumers don’t want their every move tracked by their favorite stores. Half of US smartphone users want nothing to do with retailers’ beacons or in-store tracking, according to an April 2014 study from digital marketing platform Punchtab.

The data drives home an interesting point at a time when brands like Hillshire and Marriot International are launching campaigns placing beacons at the forefront in hopes of increasing purchase intent and customer loyalty.

The “Mobile Tracking: Are Consumers Ready?” report surveyed 1,153 consumers on their feelings regarding handing over information about themselves in exchange for personalized messages.

The data revealed that just 27 percent of customers said they were open to allowing mobile in-store tracking—if they would receive relevant, real-time information and offers in return.

The biggest concern for these consumers: their privacy.

Shoppers Don’t Want Their Stores to be Stalkers

While many marketers worry about how many notifications is too many notifications, the primary worry of consumers is still privacy. This concern was cited by 51 percent of the respondents in the Punchtab survey, whereas only 13 percent would refrain from signing up for benefits via mobile tracking due to concerns about too many messages.

A March 2014 OpinionLab study also found an overwhelmingly negative response to mobile in-store tracking. According to the report, eight out of 10 consumers find it unacceptable to be tracked via their smartphones in the store.

The biggest concerns found in this study were also privacy—with 68.5 percent believing that retailers will not keep their data secure and 67 percent stating that tracking feels like spying.

Consumers know there is a big difference between choosing to share their data and it being monitored without their consent. The need for transparency is extending its reach—something marketers will have to continue to combat.

The same OpinionLab study found that 64 percent of consumers believed that the “opt in” approach is the best way to introduce in-store tracking. However, 63 percent say that they would not choose to opt in, even at their favorite stores.

So, how do marketers manage to get consumers to start opting in? The answer lies with price.

When Tracking is OK

For shoppers, deals and discounts are the name of the game. It’s no surprise then that 9 out of 10 respondents cited receiving coupons and special offers as an acceptable reason for being tracked via smartphone.

Emphasis was also placed on being alerted when products of their interest went on sale and tools to make their checkout times faster and more convenient.

An April 2014 study by the CFI Group found that when shoppers do use mobile shopping apps in-store, almost half do so to check other retailers’ prices. If marketers and retailers could manage to persuade more consumers to opt in, then this could be avoided by the delivery of location-based, real-time offers of their own.

Changing the Name of the Game

Out of the 27 percent that did opt in to location tracking in the Punchtab survey, almost all respondents (88 percent) said they would give their information in exchange for a coupon or special offer. Others wanted personal alerts (69 percent) and the ability to check the status of rewards and points (58 percent).

Retailers still need to show customers why giving up some of their personal data is worthwhile. The need for the opt-in approach is clear—but now retailers need to show consumers why they should opt in.


Mackenzie Mennucci, MJR Creative Group:
Twitter: @mjrcg |  Facebook:


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