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Beacon: the secret ingredient of Proximity Marketing

Proximity Marketing is an approach used in the world of off-line commerce to convey a direct communication to a specific target of people, using as a variable the position of consumers within a physical space. It is especially used to influence the purchase decisions of customers when customers are close to the products.

This strategy, therefore, aims to create micro marketing campaigns, proposing different types of content for advertising purposes, directly in stores.

We can consider Proximity Marketing an evolution of leaflets. Technological progress has made several tools available to marketers allowing them to interact with users in a direct, immediate and personalized way. Beacons are one of the most innovative technologies in proximity marketing and today, we want to tell you their story.


Beacons are small, battery-powered devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to transmit signals to smartphones or tablets. The signal delivers a message to the mobile user using the push notification system. However, two fundamental pre-requisites must be present for the delivery of the message. Receivers need to have pre-installed the mobile application of the shop associated to the beacon and they must have the Bluetooth on in order to be notified.

The first company introducing this technology was Apple, launching the iBeacons in summer 2013 and installing them in its stores. From then on, iPhone users started receiving additional information on products directly on their mobiles while visiting the Apple Stores.


Beacons are mainly used to send advertising messages, such as special offers and coupons, to consumers located in a certain spot of the physical store. Messages are tailored on the basis of the proximity with specific products. The content of the messages can also have informational purposes: for example, Starbucks uses beacons to alert users that they are close to a store.


The Beacon technology also can be used outside commerce field. For example, museums and other cultural institutions are not new to the concept of Proximity technologies. It is not uncommon to use QR codes to provide explanations about the art displayed during the visits. This technology, moreover, can make the experience inside the museum richer and more engaging by offering special contents. For example, notifications can be sent to the visitor when new works of art are added to the collection.


The main improvement that retailers can get from beacons is to increase points of contact, catching consumers interest in-store. This is possible by leveraging on consumers’ physical location to tailor ad-hoc messages with information or special offers. Through beacons, businesses can also collect data and analyse the behaviour of consumers inside the store, gaining valuable insights to further improve customer experience and increase sales. Results are impressive and long lasting in terms of sales and brand loyalty thanks to a more defined target audience that is less frustrated as it finds the information needed without having to ask. Indeed, businesses are not the only ones benefitting from the usage of this technology: customers are more loyal because of a simplified customer journey and immediate access to information.

Written by: Ann Sophie Papa

Edited by: Erica Blotto

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