This digital wall in a shoe shop in Eindhoven reads:

1. Show the sneaker

2. Press the photo button

3. Upload the photo to

4. Or download the photo directly to you smartphone by using the QR-code

People love their two seconds of fame. In China, ‘selfie-spots’ in (luxury) fashion stores are common, triggering people to share looks in optimized photo corners, with friends, or the world. In the example, this shoe store caters to the same desire: to let people post their flashy new kicks directly on Facebook, thus reaching a very wide audience. Isn’t that a neat way to gain new fans? You are your brand– and you better flaunt it.

A selfie corner in a store.

What does this store get in return? Your Facebook profile! By uploading the picture you need to logged on to Facebook, and so the store automatically captures your Facebook data when your photo gets uploaded. A smart way to gain an audience, as the incentive for users is clear: get your two seconds of fame in exchange of your facebook data.

We see these kinds of data capture techniques often and in many places. The race for customer data is happening and booming, as companies know that this data is invaluable in understanding customers and targeting exactly the right audience. “If it’s free, then you are the product”, was a very powerful statement coined by Jonathan Zittrain, and that’s exactly how it is.

“If it’s free, then you are the product”

Next time you connect to a store’s internal Wi-Fi, also know that your phone data is being captured. Your phone numbers, hardware details and even social media profiles can be read from connecting to the access point, often without customers knowing. Lafayette is tracking your movement in their department stores, shaping a very accurate and rich picture of how people navigate through their stores at any given moment. You can imagine that marketeers are happy to use this information to optimize their traffic and store fronts.

Selfie corner in clothing store

Single Sign On (SSO) with social profiles (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is also a very popular ubiquitous technique online retailers often use for an effortless login, discarding the need to make a new account profile. Obviously, these websites retrieve interesting data from it, giving them a small peek into your life by capturing profile pictures, location and whatever other data you grant them.

Capturing (social media) data to better understand, target and market customers is not new and seems to be more widespread than ever. However, as customers get more aware of their privacy and desired control over their data, retailers need to offer a clear incentive for people to share their profile (“what’s in it for me?”). In order to get something, you have to first give something. For example, two seconds of fame.