In the futuristic world of Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character walks into a Gap clothing store; his eyes are scanned and a 3D hologram of a saleswoman welcomes him by name and inquires about his satisfaction with his previous Gap purchases. The movie is set in 2054, but this scene may not be too different from the world we live in today.
Those objecting may not realize that location-based targeting has been around for some time. For example, GPS-based apps can determine whether you are in a particular store and immediately offer products and deals available at that retailer through your mobile device. While this practice may have turned some consumers off initially, it is increasingly an accepted practice. One notable difference, however, between app-based targeting and brick-and-mortar tracking is that those who download these theoretically apps expect location-based tracking, whereas those who walk into a store likely do not expect to be monitored and targeted.
The Way I See It
- I see that, after a period of time, we will increasingly adjust to the use of these technologies by brick-and-mortar retailers and become desensitized to this tracking, as we did with e-commerce sites tracking us online.
- I see that there are some real benefits to consumers from this type of data gathering. Retailers are using this information to enhance our shopping experiences, make them more efficient and tailor offers to the individual consumer.
- I see that retailers may expedite the acceptance of these types of practices by being more transparent about the value to consumers. For example, like GPS-based apps, retailers could increasingly provide immediate deals to consumers based on information gathered.