It is estimated that more than 25% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, which resulted in $72 billion in mobile commerce revenue in 2013. In fact, in 2014 52% of Thanksgiving Day website browsing happened on a smartphone or tablet. So it is no wonder that companies are placing increasing amounts of emphasis on consumer tracking through mobile devices.
What makes mobile tracking so intriguing to marketers is the connection that consumers have to their mobile devices. 87% of American millennials indicate that they have their smartphone within arm’s reach, day and night. For marketers that means that through the use of geotracking and other mobile application methods a company can know the exact movements and habits of a consumer. In the short time that location-based tracking/targeting has been capable, the number of companies utilizing its benefits has grown rapidly and is now being used by over 60% of advertisers.
While a majority of consumers do not like the idea of being tracked through their smartphone, there are exceptions to every rule.
A 2014 study of 500 American adults indicated a drastic shift in support for in-store tracking if they were able to receive rewards and discounts. For marketers this means that if they creatively position the benefits of their mobile application, that the potential data that can be collected on those actually shopping their stores are limitless.
However, there are some ethical concerns that marketers must take into consideration. Even when consumers choose to download the mobile application, activate the Wi-Fi, and accept the terms and conditions, that does not mean they are aware that they may be tracked and their information may be sold. Studies have shown that if a consumer fully understood what information was being tracked, and how that data was being used 77% of consumers indicated that in-store tracking was unacceptable.
There has to be a happy medium somewhere between the cost and benefit for the consumer to being tracked, while still allowing marketers the much needed data to better the shopping experience. It is a fine line, and will be one to track in years to come as technology advances and becomes more integrated into the daily operations of consumer’s lives.