Intrusion or retail reality?

Intrusion or retail reality?
SHARE
THIS



Tesco in the UK recently reported that they were installing hundreds of high-tech screens to scan the faces of customers visiting its petrol stations.

Its aim was to understand and target people with specific messages. Using face-sensory technology, the implication is that Tesco can now search Facebook and tailor messages to consumers.  

It begs the question: is this kind of observation clever or is it invasive?

Probably a bit of both, but how far can brands go before crossing an ethical line? When does observation become invasion – or even stalking? And where is there the grey area between fact and fiction?

Tesco is arguably one of the most advanced retailers in the world and it has a real grasp on understanding its customers. The big data opportunity is one that it has grabbed and through its Tesco Club Card, has a wealth of transactional data to personalise messaging and even profile stores. 

There is a danger that we mix fact with fiction in terms of observing shoppers. It’s surely done for our own good; to ‘help them to help us’ and make shopping easier and more tailored. I can hear the privacy lobbyists saying ‘it’s just another sneaky way to make us buy something’, but that is retail; it is the art of selling goods and services, and those that do it best are the most successful.

Watching behaviour or targeting individuals is where issues arise.  

The challenge and desired outcome is to understand behaviour when interacting with a category or product: is it poor signage, poor location, high price, range, packaging, store layout, densely populated displays – or even colour and music? There are so many variables. 

Media fragmentation has also meant that brands and retailers are constantly searching for the most effective way to connect and communicate, but isolating one influence from another is difficult.

Despite the advances in technology now, Tesco’s actions are nothing new.

A few years back in the UK, I was working with one of the major banks to understand how it could more effectively sell by applying some of the conventional retail rules to its branches.   

With a regular flow of advocates (only 1% of non-bank customers visit another bank), we undertook a number of observational studies in the bank lounge to understand what people do, where they stand, what they see and how much time they spend there. We unearthed two powerful findings that challenged a fundamental convention of retail signage.

On exiting the branch (and without turning around to look), not one of the 158 people we interviewed could tell us which product was being featured in store at POS. Even the staff were unsure.  The material, which was well branded did not stand out and merged in to the d√©cor. ‘Rogue’ colours were subsequently applied to the key sales POS messages to stand out.

We came to the conclusion that POS doesn’t sell products in a bank – staff do. So all POS from then on was aimed at staff, with a simple product message that was either better, cheaper or different, which allowed the staff to open dialogue with a simple but defining point of difference – making it easier to sell. POS was still an important sales tool, but as a prompt for staff not customers.  

At Sainsbury’s, there was another classic example of how understanding customers can have a powerful impact.

Everybody loves the smell of freshly baked bread, but the bakery was always located at the far corner from the entrance to store. By feeding the wonderfully enticing smell of freshly baked bread through the ducting to the entrance, we literally pulled people through the store by their nose, encouraging them to walk each aisle on the way to the source of the smell – and purchase.

There is a fine balance between observation and invasion, but retailers are motivated by the sale which is driven by the desire to understand the shopper. 

Instinctively, a shopper will feel tricked if targeted ‘illegitimately’ – and trickery, I would suggest, does not form part of any brand’s recruitment or retention strategy. 

However, did I feel tricked that I bought a bag of donuts after filling my lungs with the great smell of fresh bread? Maybe a little, but I soon got over it.

Simon Tebbutt is head of shopper & retail strategy at ApolloNation.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.
  • Opinion

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism… Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour
  • Marketing

Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour

Red Bull Holden Racing team took the covers off its 2018 Holden Commodore Supercar today. Floating on a barge in Farm Cove, the harbour provided a stunning backdrop for the reveal. Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have won the past two championships for the squad. Whincup, now the greatest of all time with seven Supercar’s titles, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]