Consumers “creeped out” by targeted ads that use facial recognition: study

E-commerce recommendations firm RichRelevance released a new study called “Creepy or Cool”, which highlights consumer attitudes towards digital enhancements to the store shopping experience, such as facial recognition technology.

The study finds that shoppers generally think it is cool to get digital help finding relevant products and information, as well as navigating the store.

However, shoppers are “creeped out” by digital capabilities that identify, track and use location and demographics, such as targeted advertisements for consumers based on facial recognition, according to the study.

“Shoppers want digital personalization when they are ready to engage,” said Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance. “They may not be ready for personalized messages the moment they walk in the door or even when they hit the dressing room, but our survey suggests they welcome relevant information and promotions when they are making a purchase decision.”

Seventy-three percent of respondents were creeped-out by facial recognition technology that identifies age and gender to target advertisements on digital screens, such as an eye cream promotion targeted toward an older female shopper.

Additionally, 75 percent of survey respondents were creeped-out by facial recognition technology that identifies them as a high-value shopper and then sends this information to a sales associate.

“Our study shows that retailers need to focus on digital store capabilities that drive engagement and convenience by making sure the right products and content are always available to shoppers,” said Kegley. “Retailers have a huge opportunity to leverage their biggest asset, the store, to gain an edge when it comes to customer experience.”

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