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Big Brother is watching you

Have you noticed how your phone offers you the password to nearby Wi-Fi that your friends are already connected to? Or adverts for stores you’ve visited coincidentally appear all over your social media? Maybe your phone has notified you with a traffic report before you’ve even reached your car door.

Well, I can assure you that Big Brother is not spying on you through your camera lens or listening in on your phone calls. (Well at least we don’t think so…)

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In fact, your phone is supporting geofencing – a less menacing yet arguably, just as intrusive software already inbuilt to all modern mobiles. Geofencing is a virtual perimeter which monitors and tracks your location through GPS or cellular data. These perimeters can be used to target, connect and engage with potential customers through app notifications (including third party), text messages and social media.

Geofencing is already an expanding marketing strategy which has been utilised by a number of well-known retailers. Starbucks have used geofencing to notify potential customers with promotional offers when they come within close proximity of a Starbucks store. Additionally, Northface have utilised the ability to track location by providing potential customers with weather information in the hope of persuading individuals to visit their store.*

It’s clear that geofencing is a marketer’s dream, and unknowingly, it’s just as valuable to those working in market research. Geofencing has the ability to provide a wealth of data allowing research to expand beyond qualitative and quantitative techniques.


Ways in which geofencing could be advantageous in market research include:

Real time responses: Respondents can be asked to provide immediate feedback whilst it is fresh in their mind e.g. a customer satisfaction survey upon leaving a store.

Track behaviours: Geofencing can track time, location, and duration of a visit.

Easier intercepts: Shopper paths can be tracked to place interviewers at locations where they are most likely to intercept their target audience.

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Easy access to data: Market researchers have the opportunity to combine location information with other phone ID information to profile the target market.

Less time consuming: Data is collected without the respondent having to actively provide information. All the respondent requires is a mobile phone.

Still not convinced? If geofencing still sounds like a breach of privacy, it’s reassuring to know that apps using geofencing will always state so in their terms and conditions and should give users the option to ‘opt in’. Whether you agree or disagree with this marketing ploy, the results have shown a vast increase in sales and footfall since introducing the technique. We are excited to see how geofencing can transform the world of market research.  

By Lizzie Simkin

*Shazia Burke. 2017. Geofencing Marketing In 2017. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.digitale.co.in/journal/ditial-trends/what-is-geofencing-marketing-how-can-it-be-used-by-marketers.html. [Accessed 25 October 2017].

This entry was posted on November 20, 2017


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