Is Money Really the Answer to Keep Customers?


Last month we surveyed our Consumer Panel about retailers using hidden cameras to track their behaviors and eye movements as they decided which products to select from store shelves.

I was not surprised to find that almost a third of the shoppers said they would warn others about the practice and one in five would switch stores. I was shocked to learn that three-quarters of the group said they would accept the practice if the store would offer them benefits including targeted offers or lower prices.


The majority of the Consumer Panel said they felt that these research practices invade their privacy and in fact favor legislative safeguards.

Don’t misunderstand — I am a proponent of consumer research and believe that every retailer and every brand must continually be finding out as much as they can about their current and prospective consumers. And as I have said many times, but bears repeating here, once you discover all you think you could know about them, it is the signal to start delving even deeper.

I am not one of those naive consumers who fear that my credit card company knows too much; in fact, just the opposite. I relish the fact that if one of my credit card companies observes a purchase that does not fit my purchasing habit composite they send me a text to verify it in fact was a purchase that I made and my card number was not stolen.

What I am upset about is that if we throw money at shoppers, no matter how passionate they might feel about a subject like privacy, they will acquiesce. We have all sat behind the one-way mirrored glass in focus group facilities and chuckled how giving people stale potato chips and $50 translates into these almost professional recruits saying whatever they feel the folks on the other side of the glass want to hear.

Pop star Cyndi Lauper sang “money changes everything” and not a truer statement could be made about rewarding shoppers financially to discover more about them.

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Julie Gallagher

Julie Gallagher’s delicious foray into coverage of the food industry was purely accidental. With a background in technology, she joined Supermarket News as associate editor of its Technology...

Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Senior Digital Manager at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined SN in August 2012.
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