January 19, 2014

iBeacon- The new Marketing Wand

iBeacon Image

Beacon- The Marketer’s Tool

Apple’s one slide presentation on the iBeacon technology at IOS7 launch event might well turn out to be NFC’s obituary. iBeacon is Apple’s rendition of a ‘Bluetooth Low Energy’ device that can transmit data (small files) within the range of 50 meters, consuming very little energy. Apart from Apple many other companies like PayPal and Shopkick are being recognized as the primary players in this field.

So what does it do?

Basically, it enables Mobile Apps on your smartphone to communicate with sensors (Called Beacons) as soon as they gain proximity (50 M radius). This data exchange opens up an array of opportunities and everyone from retail marketers to cash-less payment companies is taking notice.

What’s the big deal?

Well, it is, picture this. Imagine your phone popping the following message as you stroll through your favorite mall. ‘Get your hands on the latest Samsung “Abc” phone in the Samsung Store (10 Mts from your location). You get a 5% cash back on any purchase from the store.’

What prompted this message?

Hmmmm…Weren’t you checking out the launch video of the same phone on Youtube last night?
That is when the Youtube app registered your interest in the phone and thought it would be worthwhile showing this message with the same ‘key-words’ as your phone gained proximity with the Beacon installed in the Samsung Store located in the mall.

When your cell gets you a great deal through Beacon.

When your cell gets you a great deal through Beacon.

The possibilities are endless and go far beyond this simple customer pull example. Soon you might skip the long queues at the grocery store for billing and make payments through your e-wallet anywhere within 50-meter radius of the beacon.

Marketer’s Delight

Return on marketing expenditure is a difficult question to answer for any marketer. The beacon technology promises to be a refreshing change. Messages beamed on beacons are slated to generate incisive data points for marketers to act on. Ad response, shopping patterns, heat-maps of sections in your retail store, response to different schemes across demographic profiles etc. are just some of the exciting knowledge prospects that the beacon technology might unleash for you.
Coca Cola is already mulling over usage of this technology during the world cup in order to differentiate its marketing communication. More importantly, Coca-Cola intends to extend the use of this technology worldwide in licensing and restaurant applications through its many brands. Speaking with marketing publication The Drum, Digital Director at Coca-Cola Enterprises Simon Miles said “We are looking long and hard at iBeacons and what they might bring to market.”

Indian and iBeacons

The technology is an exciting prospect for the Indian market especially given the heterogeneous demographic composition of the buyers, the nascent stage of organized retail in the country and most importantly the ever-rising number of Smart Phones in the hands of the consumers. In a country where getting a great deal ensures a social exclamation, the consumer’s phone might just end up being the most potent social media and word of mouth stimulant for brands in 2014.

Other uses

Get out from the marketer’s office and you would find several other applications of this effective technology. Here is a link that might help you explore that.

Note: I intend to do a small research on the utility of iBeacons in Indian Metropolitan cities and would be very happy if anyone would like to join in as a partner, sponsor, freelance data collector etc. Feel free to leave a message below.

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