You may not know when shopping stress makes your sweat or what route you take through a mall but marketing researchers were using new tech tools Black Friday to track just that kind of data.
Marketing researchers were out in full force during last week’s Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S. One of the most creative studies that day was measuring shoppers’ sweat to collect data on stressful situations like long line-ups or how a snarky clerk might affect a decision to purchase or not.
When we’re stressed or excited, our brains send signals to the skin to increase sweat - sometimes in such small amounts we don’t even notice. A Wall Street Journal story on the Black Friday sweat study said 50 shoppers wore a biometric-tracking sensor on their wrists when they hit stores Friday to provide data from “electrodermal activity” on how emotions affect spending.
Biometric research has been used in labs for years to study human behaviour but the Wall Street Journal story says the price of biometric research technologies has dropped the past couple of years, making it affordable for marketers eager to understand physiological signs that might affect buying decisions.
Another technology that was used Black Friday creates “heat maps” of malls, tracking people’s movements by triangulating their cell phones which broadcast location signals even when they’re not being used. Malls can set up antennas and collect all kinds of data from cell phone locations like whether large blocks of shoppers always visit the same types of stores. Or, which parts of the mall have the heaviest traffic so advertisers know the best spots to place their signs.
One tracking technology called Footpath from Path Intelligence collects and analyzes mall data and provides it to retailers through a secure website so they can see data on traffic in their stores or how many walked by without stopping, according to a story in ars technica.
New applications such as these are transforming marketing by applying tech to understand everything we do when we shop and why we buy one brand over another. A lot of what they’re learning about us comes from Big Data analytics that create shopping personality profiles from tracking our every tweet and move online. But being able to use technologies like biometric research and heat mapping are adding new dimensions by collecting data on how we behave offline as well.
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