Information on consumers' habits, actions and preferences has always been marketing gold. But in a recession, these trends are even more important.
Enter technology. Not only are retailers beginning to use facial recognition to market to specific customers, they're also zeroing in on people's cell phones to track their shopping habits.
Privacy advocates are crying foul in Australia after a shopping center revealed that it will be the first in the country to install receivers that detect cell phone radio frequency codes. Imported from a UK-based company, the receivers can pinpoint a unique cell phone within 2 meters--and can track that particular phone around the shopping mall.
The Footpath system does not access user names or numbers, however.
"All we do is log the movement of a phone around an area and aggregate this to provide trend data for businesses," a spokeswoman said. "It's much less intrusive or invasive than existing people-counting methods, for instance CCTV cameras and number plate monitoring."
At this point, there is no plan to notify customers or seek their consent.