Bluetooth beacons and hyper-personalisation: the rise of digital retail marketing

Retailers are increasingly going digital to encourage consumers to part with their hard-earned cash.

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the global spend on digital retail marketing is set to double, from $174bn (£120.5bn) in 2015 to $362.1bn (£250.8bn) by 2020.

One interesting trend identified in the report is the rise of Bluetooth beacons.

Although advertising revenues will continue to dominate the digital retail marketing landscape, the research firm expects a significant increase in coupon contributions, driven in part by the rise of beacons which push relevant content and information to nearby devices that have Bluetooth enabled.

Juniper notes that several leading US retailers have now deployed beacon networks, including department store chain Macy’s which has installed more than 4,000 in its stores.

According to the report, this technology presents a significant opportunity to retailers. Juniper forecasts that almost 1.6 billion coupons will be delivered annually to consumers via beacon technology by 2020. That’s up from just 11 million this year, as retailers seek to develop proximity marketing campaigns in and around their stores.

Research author Lauren Foye said: “Beacons are set to provide a boost to retailers, as we see major players promote instore offers and deals though mobile devices, targeting consumers whilst they are shopping. Coupled with loyalty schemes and rewards, retailers have clear potential to monetise those setting foot in their stores, aiding in promoting more traditional bricks and mortar retail.”

As well as beacons inside retail stores, Juniper also highlights the potential of beacons installed on buses, tubes and taxis, targeting locations with high footfall.

Another growing tactic in digital retail marketing is targeted advertising — capitalising on the wealth of data available on consumer habits and interests to aim for not just personalisation but hyper-personalisation, Juniper says.

The report notes that some companies are reaping the rewards of creating bespoke, individualised engagement across all brand offers. Netflix, for example, has said that recommendations made via hyper-personalisation data accounted for 60% of its rentals in 2014.

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