This article comprises two distinct components. First is the delineation of a typology that encompasses the various approaches by which marketers can track the behavior of an individual in the marketplace. A total of 17 broad approaches were identified. Associated with each technique is the issue of whether personal information is being extracted via the tracking process, whether consumers’ involvement is voluntary, and – if voluntary – what action was required on the part of the consumer. The 17 approaches are far from reflecting a homogeneous approach to the data gathering process. The second part of the study focused on two specific techniques: Shopkick and shopperception. But these techniques merely represent opposite ends of a continuum in that Shopkick is purely voluntary whereas shopperception is involuntary, and consumers are likely unaware that their behavior is being monitored. A sample of 307 respondents indicated reasons why each approach might be acceptable, and why each might not be. Comparing results from two independent samples, it was found that consumers consider Shopkick to be considerably more ethical than Shopperception. The implication is that surveillance techniques that are voluntary, transparent, rely on consumer involvement, and provide tangible benefits to the consumer are viewed as less invasive and more acceptable than are the more surreptitious alternatives for observing consumers in the marketplace.
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Fullerton, Sam and Brooksbank, Roger, "Spies!" (2018). Association of Marketing Theory and Practice Proceedings 2018. 25.