As you may have heard, a new cashier-less Sam’s Club, Sam’s Club Now, is opening in Dallas soon. While it has many interesting designs, a striking one is the idea of story advertising while the customer is in the aisle.
The question is will it increase sales? The cashier-less system is still in testing stages, so it may change as more data is collected. It could increase sales in Sam’s Club Now because customers are expected to be viewing their phones for a map to products, shopping lists, and scanning desired items. The supposed story ad could potentially be too intrusive. Story ads will likely not be videos with sound, so that leaves videos (or maybe GIFs) with text -which implies shorter stories. Shorter stories require marketers to only include the essentials of the message. Many writers could write such stories, the problem is will they work. Can a brand tell how a product was sourced, its features, and a compelling narrative that drives buys in a few seconds?
It is possible, though it will likely rely on emotional appeals and attempts to drive consumers to impulse buy. With the kinds of data being collected the ads may be able to be personalized to better appeal to specific consumers’ emotional weak points.
There is a question this raises. Where does this side of marketing become unethical? The more data available on a customer the easier the manipulation. Marketing’s intent is to some extent customer manipulation, but too much information can show a customer’s psychological weak points that when pushed make driving consumer action reflexive to the consumer. We are not at this level yet, but it is a possibility in a short while -especially in countries with less regulated data collection and aggregation, such as China. It is widely accepted that this is unethical because it inherently removes consumers’ choice. But how close can marketers get to this line? Marketers will have to use their judgements, as they already do, when making content and the corporate structure must have a system in place to check and balance the content creators’ campaigns close to the unethical line. Thankfully systems are in place at most marketing firms to address this very issue, but we must remain vigilant to ensure consumers’ choice is not infringed.