September 14, 2017

Acceptable vs. Creepy: Private Data Sharing Depends on Rewards

4 minute read

How many of you have seen Minority Report? There’s a scene where Tom Cruise is running through a mall. As he passes a digital sign, it shows him a strangely specific, personalized message extracted from his personal data profile. The first thought that came to mind was, “Wow, that’s cool". Then I reverted to the emotional response: “That’s really creepy.”

But why do we feel that way?  Well, for one, we hear of retailers being hacked and losing customer data far too often. We have a healthy knee jerk reaction to anyone or anything collecting information on us. Often we don’t understand why or how they’ll leverage our personal data.

The creep factor exists when consumers don’t have control.

It’s a common predicament among shoppers. They demand better store experiences, but don’t understand a crucial mantra: To get, you must also give.

Personal data sharing: How much is too much?

MaxMedia took a closer look at shopper privacy. They determined most shoppers accept retailers anonymously tracking their presence and transactions in-store. However, they feel facial detection and recognition, emotional response tracking, and "hiding" devices all cross the line.

People today are “comfortable with sharing a tremendous amount of data, whether it’s on social media or with various brands”, according to a recent Aimia study. “Although consumers are worried about how their personal data is being handled by companies, they’re willing to share if they get rewarded.”

A related survey by RichRelevance, aptly named “Creepy or Cool?”, parsed the preferences of 1,000+ UK residents and discovered:

    • Almost three quarters (72%) of shoppers find personalization of product recommendations based on purchasing habits a helpful capability when shopping.
    • 63% of consumers also welcome location-based personalization in store, with a mobile personalized map showing item locations and efficient store paths.
    • Two-thirds of millennials were willing to let retailers track them if they were rewarded or compensated. Most prefer straight cash, followed by discounts and exclusive coupons.

Chris Petersen, President of Integrated Marketing Solutions, advises retailers to step up and champion the responsibility. “[They] have a LOT to gain by understanding traffic flow and consumer behavior across departments. ANONYMOUSLY tracking smartphones is also the least expensive in-store deployment, and costs are coming down.

Without in-store tracking, retailers are literally “blind” as to consumer responses and patterns in store. Retailers focus on getting the data and not focused on giving much back to customers in return.”

Give, and you'll also recieve

It’s a simple remedy. Once retailers opt for rewards, their customers will be far more open to share for the sake of analytics. “Location data, customized coupons, reminders on replenishment, etc. all work to engage consumers rather than scare them off and should be encouraged,” says Mark Price, Managing Partner at LiftPoint Consulting.

It’s a simple stepping stone. Put the consumer at the center of the experience with in-depth analytics stemming from personalization. To start, retailers should begin with these steps:

  • Asking customers what they want to get out of the experience across various channels. DO NOT build your program in isolation.
  • Explaining the benefits of personalization and creating a value exchange. The more involved the customer is in the process the more likely they will be to engage.
  • Giving customers control and allowing them to set preferences.
  • Voicing a clear privacy statement and easy opt-out of push notifications or location enabled content.

Digitization is already being adopted. Those who adapt, thrive. RetailMeNot’s Senior VP of Retail and Brand Solutions Michael Jones emphasizes, “While retailers may still be trying to figure out how these technologies fit into their marketing models, those that tap into this technology may gain a competitive advantage, especially when it comes to their in-store success.”

Personalize, and retailers have already won half the battle.

Topic(s): experience

Bob Koblovsky

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