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Technology Allows Marketers to Track Consumers’ Shopping Routines

Thanks to mobile technology, marketers can now track where and probably how consumers move from one location to another in a shopping trip.

As illustrated in this MSNBC News video, as soon as a consumer enters the parking lot of a shopping mall, his/her cell phone signal will be recognized by the sensors. Then, this consumer’s whole shopping trip will be recorded. The cell phone users’ personal or demographic information, however, will not be identified by this tracking system.

Such information could be critically important to marketers, and probably the landlords as well, but some people feel that tracking consumers’ shopping routines may violate their rights of privacy. This concern makes sense. If a hacker connects cell phone users’ personal and demographic information with the data of their shopping routines, customers are indeed being watched. Also, it would be quite different if consumers are tracked in a larger neighborhood rather than a mall, such as in a city, and if they are tracked for a week, a month, or 24/7.

In your opinions, what are the benefits of tracking consumers’ shopping routines? What are the potential risks of collecting such information? How may the benefits outweigh the potential risks in this case?


Comments

  1. I do believe that someones privacy is very important. Now anything that allows others to trace your movements is a negative thing for me.

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  2. Very good point. Unfortunately, I believe that we are already being watched by the Big Brother somewhere sometime. Think positively, if we do not do anything wrong, we shall feel we are protected in some way --- hopefully, the Big Brother can help control the crimes. I believe European countries have more surveillance cameras in the public places than the U.S. too. Can anyone provide any statistics of how much the Big Brother has help improve our safety?

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  3. Tracking a person's shopping habits on their phones is kind of a cool idea. For marketers it seems like a dream come true. There are definitely a great deal of positives that come with this. For instance, marketers can target you in advertisements and deals based off of your shopping routines and patterns. Marketers are always looking for the best way to get inside of a consumers head, or in this case, cell phone. The risks behind this are very very big. Although it says it does not collect anybody's personal information, but it already seems easy enough for somebody to steal another persons information over the internet, there is only a matter of time before someone figures out how to obtain your personal information through this technology. For me, it doesn't seem like the benefits outweigh the flaws. It also depends on whose perspective your looking from. If you're the marketer it seems like the benefits would weigh out the negatives. But it would be the opposite way around if you were the consumer. The consumer has more to lose.

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  4. I think that our mobile technology is an incredible tool for marketers. By tracking how and where people shop, marketers can learn important information about the shopping tendencies of their target market. Marketers can then take this information and turn it into marketing campaigns that will cater and appeal to the shopping tendencies of the consumers they wish to attract. I also think that many people will have a problem with being tracked and may even argue that it is not following good business ethics. This could potentially cause a lot of bad publicity about the product being marketed if it is leaked that they obtained their market research by tracking people's mobile phones. I honestly do not mind if marketers are tracking my shopping destinations through my cell phone. I think doing this will allow marketers and companies to better cater to the consumer, which will hopefully end up being beneficial to me in the end.
    - Zach Winzelberg,

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  5. While this does seem like a cool idea, personally for me it seems like the potential risks could outweigh the benefits. If this program can track all the shopping areas that you've been to just through your cell phone, who's to say that someone with ill intentions out there won't rig the system to be able to track a person everywhere, which would literally be stalking the person. This could not only lead to violation of property but also safety issues for some.

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  6. This idea seems great for the marketers, because they can track their customer and it will be easy to follow their shopping pattern or security. However, this system is risky, because of the customer's privacy. I would not feel good if I realize that marketer tracking me or recording my information. So I think if marketer ask their customer to allow this technology by sending an agreement text message, it will be great source of information that follow customer's needs.
    - Young Ju Choi

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  7. As everyone else has mentioned, this idea is great and carries many risks. In my opinion however, the benefits outweigh the risks in this instance. To back this up, I see that many companies such as Google already track your activity online to deliver you marketing that appeals to you. Google is one of the most successful companies today because it offers a product which tracks your activity. This is before mentioning there already is something in place in regards to tracking your position on many smart phones. If they can track your location every time you log on your phone and every time you log on to the internet on a computer, I think that just tracking your position in a mall is much less intrusive and makes for positive marketing.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. I feel that tracking consumers through iphones or any other type of smart phone is a little creepy. It may be beneficial in the sense that a company or business may see the nature of the person and what type of person he/she is by the types of stores they go into in such shopping malls however, that does not determine or give the right for businesses to judge and make decisions on whether he/she is the right person to hire. One cannot simply judge or describe a person through the means of what stores he/she walks into. What good is it for a company to know that someone just walked into Macy's for some holiday shopping? The most a company can get with this new outbreak of tracking consumers' shopping is the style of the consumer and what the consumer is in need of.

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  10. I feel like this may be an invasion of privacy. I also don’t get how it can help marketers to see what stores people are going into. You do not know anything about these people, you just no what stores there entering. I could see how it may help landlords, but its only because they can see what properties people are entering and the location or that store in the mall. I also do not feel its right, because what if more information were to be leaked about these people? I do think its an invasion of privacy, and personally I would not want this information of me when I was going shopping in the mall.

    -Lauren Chessin

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  11. There are many benefits of tracking consumers’ shopping routines. Marketing managers will be able to see which stores are being most frequently visited by consumers in this specific location. This will allow them to place their products in the most high traffic areas and hopefully in turn increase revenue and sales. Although there are benefits, there are also risks, as with any situation. These may include misunderstood information or technical glitches. Although this is a good idea, the records received may be inaccurate and may cause marketers to place their products somewhere that they think, due to these tracking records, may have a high volume of customers but in reality they might not. The benefits may outweigh the risks by allowing marketers to see which stores and outlets have the most customer traffic and allowing them to place their products here.

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