One-to-one marketing has long been considered a holy grail for business. Marketers strive to perfectly personalize the right message to the right consumer at the right time.
Technology and large data pools are bringing marketers ever closer to that goal. Yet one-to-one marketing can also be, well, creepy. Marketers have to walk a fine line between useful personalization and going too far.
Amazon recently announced a concept grocery store called Amazon Go without lines or checkout counters. It’s currently open in beta only to employees. From their patent filing, cameras and sensors would monitors consumers around the store and record what they browse and what items they pick up. Facial recognition technology could also be used. Presumably the vast personal data collected on each consumer’s shopping history would also be at play.
RealRelevance tracks consumer sentiment in an annual “Creepy or Cool” survey. In 2016, 67% thought it would be “creepy” for facial recognition technology to identify you as a high value shopper and relay that information to a salesperson. 64% thought it would be “creepy” for a sales person to greet you by name on the shop floor because your mobile phone signals your presence.
Yet age plays a factor in what is considered creepy or cool. 49% of Millennials thought it would be “cool” for your location in a store to trigger personalized product information, relevant content, recommendations and discounts on your phone as you walk the aisles. Yet only 40% of consumers overall found that “cool” versus “creepy.”
It will be interesting to see if what is considered creepy today becomes commonplace over time.
As marketers adopt new technologies that allow greater and more granular one-to-one marketing, I think that “Creepy or Cool” will be a good filter question to ask.
Here are a couple cartoons I’ve drawn on this theme over the years.
“The Future of Advertising”, August 2013
“Marketing with Personal Data”, May 2014