For years, malls have used various techniques to determine what entrance people use, what stores they go to, and what stores they pass by. Now, the technology exists to track unique cell phone IDs to collect reliable data – in bulk – concerning your movements at malls and inside stores. How do you feel about this?
From CNN Money.
Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year’s Day, two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. — will track guests’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.
While the data that’s collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers’ paths from store to store.
The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria’s Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren’t being visited?
This was all done with video monitoring and people trackers before, now they’re going high-tech. Of course market researchers point out no personal information is collected at all, and you can opt-out if you want … by turning off your phone. They make that sound so sweet, “hey, no worries, you can opt out … we even put signs up.”
[T]he company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers.
Oh come on .. get a clue for goodness sakes. Nobody reads those signs. In my opinion, if you want to use my personally owned equipment to enrich your marketing data, you best ask me if I want to opt-in to your little program. Sweeten the pot by giving me some cash to help pay my cell phone bill while you’re at it.
I wonder how many people would opt-in if they had to ask? My guess … not many.
Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for the mall’s parent company notes…
“We don’t need to know who it is and we don’t need to know anyone’s cell phone number, nor do we want that,” Shriver-Engdahl said.
Sure, you’re not interested in who it is or what the phone number is, but I guaranty you mall marketing staff is already collecting approximate age, sex, what stores people visit, and how long they stay. I’m somewhat cool with that since I’m entering their personal property and they are using manual means to collect the data. But using my personal electronic gear that I pay for? Nope.
Manufactured by a British company, Path Intelligence, this technology has already been used in shopping centers in Europe and Australia. And according to Path Intelligence CEO Sharon Biggar, hardly any shoppers decide to opt out.
“It’s just not invasive of privacy,” she said. “There are no risks to privacy, so I don’t see why anyone would opt out.”
They are not opting out because they don’t know about the program or they don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to turn off their phone.
For those of you in Temecula or Richmond, demand the mall change the program from opt-out to opt-in, or tell them you’ll shop elsewhere.