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UK shoppers find facial recognition ‘creepy’

The latest research by RichRelevance, a global personalisation company, indicates that UK consumers have some contrasting opinions when it comes to personalisation technology.

The “Creepy or Cool” study found that although targeting shoppers with specific recommendations can be helpful, it can also cross a line.

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72 per cent of consumers find personalised recommendations based on previous shopping habits “cool” and 63 per cent believe that location-based personalisation is also a positive recent development. However, when it comes to facial recognition technology, shoppers are less receptive. The study revealed that 7 in 10 UK shoppers find technology that analyses age and gender in order to provide targeted suggestions “creepy.”

More than three quarters of respondents also revealed that being greeted by their name as they walk into a store, as a result of using smartphone identifiers, was not welcome.

The study also found a number of geographical and age-based discrepancies between what consumers find cool and creepy. Yorkshire and Humberside were more likely to be creeped out by personalisation than London, for example. Moreover, half of under-30s found personalised recommendations “cool,” while just a quarter of over-45s felt the same way.

Diane Kegley, CMO at RichRelevance believes that the study reinforces the fact that UK consumers are keen to protect their privacy, but also shows that they are beginning to expect a more modern retail experience.

“Personalisation in the form of facial recognition or personal greeting at store entrance may not be welcome, but we’re seeing a trend of younger consumers who are open to a connected shopping experience—receiving recommendations delivered within their personal space like dressing rooms and smartphones, and allowing in-store tracking if it means getting a better deal,” she said.

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The growth of personalised experiences is largely connected to the increasingly prominent role that smartphones play in our daily lives. For example, the latest research from Forrester suggests that almost seven in 10 shoppers use their handset while in store.