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Cool or Creepy? RichRelevance Study Examines Attitudes to Personalisation

David Murphy

Cool infographic72 per cent of UK consumers find personalisation of product recommendations based on purchasing habits a “cool” capability when shopping. British shoppers also welcome location-based personalisation in store, with 63 per cent welcoming a mobile, personalised map showing item locations and efficient store paths to help them navigate stores more conveniently. Furthermore, 43 per cent find in-store location deals – where their location is tracked in order to trigger personalised promotions whilst shopping – “cool”.

However, seven in 10 UK shoppers would find facial recognition technology that identifies age and gender in order to display product recommendations “creepy”, while 76 per cent of British consumers felt the same about being greeted by their name when walking into a store because of their mobile phone signaling their entrance.

Broken down into national regions, the statistics show that consumers in Yorkshire and The Humber are the most creeped out by personalisation, with a “Creepy” score[1] of 30 per cent. However, London is nearly even-keeled when it comes to in-store technologies, with a “Creepy” score of just 2 per cent. Furthermore, the survey revealed that men are 5 per cent more likely than women to shop at a retail store that offers a digitally personalised experience.

The study also shows an age disparity when it comes to getting personal in store. While half of under-30s find personalised product recommendations in the dressing room “cool”, only a quarter of over-45s would welcome this capability. Furthermore, 56 per cent of over-60s find it creepy to have their location in store trigger personalised promotions, but 63 per cent of under-29s find this capability cool.

“While it’s always been a well-known fact that UK consumers are keen protectors of their privacy and personal space, we now have a clearer view into where they are increasingly embracing – and even expecting – tailored shopping services in the fast-changing world of retail,” said RichRelevance CMO, Diane Kegley. “Personalisation in the form of facial recognition or personal greeting at store entrance may not be welcome, but we’re seeing a trend of younger consumers who are open to a connected shopping experience, receiving recommendations delivered within their personal space like dressing rooms and smartphones, and allowing in-store tracking if it means getting a better deal.”

According to Forrester, nearly seven in 10 shoppers now use a mobile device while in the store, and retailers are investing heavily in new technologies to improve the in-store shopping experience. This survey of 1,049 consumers in the UK was conducted in May 2015, and locates nine digital store capabilities along a continuum of cool and creepy. Highlights include:

Cool
Scan a product on your mobile device to see product reviews and recommendations for other items you might like. Overall rating: 72 per cent cool.

An interactive map on your mobile phone shows exactly where items are located and charts your most efficient path through the store. Overall rating: 63 per cent cool.

Your in-store location triggers personalised product recommendations, promotions and coupons to pop up on your mobile device as you are shopping. Overall rating: 43 per cent cool.

Getting Creepy
Products in store don’t have price tags; instead digital screens display prices that are tailored just to you. Overall rating: 44 per cent creepy.

Digital screens in each dressing room provide products recommended just for you based on your current items and past purchases. Overall rating: 45 per cent creepy.

A salesperson unlocks the dressing room door before you arrive based on your detected location within the store. Overall rating: 63 per cent creepy.

Creepy
Facial recognition technology identifies age and gender to target advertisements on digital screens. For example, an eye cream promotion for an older female shopper. Overall rating: 68 per cent creepy.

A salesperson greets you by name when you enter a store because your mobile phone signals your entrance. Overall rating: 73 per cent creepy.

Facial recognition technology identifies you as a high-value shopper and relays this information to a sales associate. Overall rating: 77 per cent creepy.

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