Quantium director Tony Davis has given an insight into the potential future battleground for Coles and Woolworths: stealing each others' customers while they are in the checkout line.
Davis, whose data and analytics firm is part-owned by Woolworths, outlined what WalMart is doing in the US. The retailer has got customers to agree to let it track them, so it can send them offers via mobile phone as they stand in line in a competitor's store.
WalMart can identify a customer “at any moment in time”, said Davis. And “not only who are they and what their buying profile is, but where are they are”.
“It means they can identify customers who are in Safeway down the road and send them a message saying 'we have this on offer and we will beat any offer that Safeway has',” explained Davis.
Speaking at the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney, Davis said WalMart is also able to use its masses of customer data to target them in a very personalised way.
Promoting hair straightening products when the weather forecast is humid to customers who are prone to frizzy hair is one example.
“Wal-Mart can identify customers that use certain hair care products – they can see who may suffer from frizzy hair,” he said. “Then, using the weather forecast for the next 24 hours, they can ping those customers an offer for hair straightening products.”
With masses of data now available, Davis said there was no excuse for marketers not to make the right time, right place, right offer to the right person “a far truer reality than it has ever been”.
He also branded traditional market research “dead”.
“Reported as opposed to observed data is unreliable – we are interested in what people do, not what people say,” he said. “If the primary purpose of market research is to collect data, it's as dead as a doorknob. Clearly, we are not short of data.”
But it could be that stealing customers at the checkout could be a shortlived thing. AMP digital director Michael Weeding also spoke at the ADMA global forum. He suggested that should beacon technology become ubiquitous, then the checkout aisle itself could become redundant.
"The checkout is such an old concept," he said. "We should be able to find a product and walk out. Have you ever walked into Bunnings and tried to find a screw? That's where beacons come in, so you don't have to talk to one of those blokes in a brown apron."
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