As marketers, it’s important to sometimes take a step back with a critical eye at the world in which we operate. Some might call this playing Devil’s Advocate. Whatever the metaphor, it’s necessary to realistically think about today – and ever more so – the future.

For Shopper Marketing, nowhere is this more true than in the prognostications of usage of technology and how it might influence purchase behavior.

The future vision goes something like this: Technology will allow us to find the right shopper at the right time with the right message to trigger a purchase. There will be no more ‘waste’ in finding the right audiences. We will know the exact instant of demand generation to serve just the right message to fulfill shopper needs.

Beacons. NFC. Big Data. All these show potential for greatness, but what if the above vision is a mirage and not reality?

  • Irrelevant, impersonal or intrusive messages overload people and they ignore marketing (maybe in the way we now use DVRs to skip over TV commercials).
  • Overuse of push messages and geo-location services will make people not just ignore messages, but opt-out to the point where we can’t communicate with them (see this note on beacons).
  • People could very well become overprotective of what information marketers have and use in their Big Data warehouses, leading to government regulations and limits.

Boom or bust? Which version of the future will it be?

Simple, it’s the version we create. As marketers, we make our own path to the future.

We must do what the best marketers have always done – focus on consumers and shoppers (vs technology for the sake of technology).

We must seek to intimately understand their current and likely future behavior. From this understanding we must meticulously create valuable consumer experiences and how they come to life in the real world.

This is the only real path toward a brighter digital shopper marketing future.