Which In-Store Personalization Tactics Are Creepy? And Which Are Cool?

June 27, 2016

RichRelevance-Creepy-or-Cool-Retail-Personalization-Tactics-Jun2016Consumers are generally fine with the ability to scan a product on their mobile device to see product reviews and recommendations, according to a study from RichRelevance. But the second annual “Creepy or Cool?” survey finds continued opposition to several other forms of in-store personalization.

Indeed, only about half of respondents consider it “cool” to receive a digital coupon for a product that they looked at but didn’t purchase (51.8%) or to receive personalized product recommendations on a print or email receipt (49.8%).

Digital screens in dressing rooms that show products complementing the item being tried on are equally as likely to be considered “creepy” (41.9%) as they are “cool” (41.5%), per the survey’s more than 1,000 adult respondents. And while location-triggered personalized content and discounts delivered to mobile devices are slightly more likely to be perceived as “cool” (39.9%) than “creepy” (37.3%), a sizable chunk (22.8%) of respondents aren’t sure.

The personalization tactics that are the most unfavorable to consumers are:

  • A salesperson making more helpful suggestions because they can see what the shopper has previously browsed and bought on their site and in the store (31.9% rating as “cool” versus 45.9% perceiving as “creepy”);
  • A salesperson greeting the shopper by name on the store floor because their mobile phone or app signals their entrance (18.2% rating as “cool” compared to 64.3% finding this “creepy”); and
  • Facial recognition technology identifying the shopper as a high-value one and relaying the information to a salesperson (13% seeing as “cool” versus 66.8% feeling this is “creepy”).

Interestingly, Gen Xers (30-44) were the most open to salespeople greeting them by name due to a mobile signal and also to facial recognition technology identifying them as high-value shoppers. All other tactics were most likely to be considered “cool” by Millennials (18-29).

Meanwhile, seeing as this is the second such study conducted by RichRelevance, there are some year-over-year comparisons to be made, even though not all tactics measured were consistent from last year.

Nevertheless, among those tactics included in both editions of the study, the trends indicate that:

  • There has been a slight move towards “cool” rather than “creepy” for scanning products on mobile devices to see reviews and recommendations;
  • Consumers are a little less likely to see location-triggered mobile alerts as “cool” this year; but
  • Respondents are slightly more favorable to salespeople greeting them by name on the store floor due to a mobile signal, and to facial recognition technology identifying the shopper as a high-value one.

As noted, none of these moved significantly in either direction this year compared to last. For the most part, the personalization tactics that were considered the most “creepy” last year continue to be viewed that way this year.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in May 2016 among 1,018 adults.

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