How can Proximity Marketing Strengthen IMC?

Brands use social media to promote products and services to target customers based on their consumption behaviors.  With wireless technologies including Bluetooth, NFC, beacon, brands utilize proximity marketing apps or social media with such function to strengthen their integrated marketing communications (IMC), branding on mobile devices and offer target customers’ unusual shopping experiences.

As part of brand’s IMC, social media allow brands to interact with their target customers and provide them with personalized services or deals by analyzing consumption preferences. With proximity marketing features, social media or apps can help amplify their IMC purpose. In Garrett Mehrguth’s article ‘Hacking Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads: 5 Advanced Tips’, he suggested various ways for brands to strengthen their proximity marketing through local awareness promotions, for example, coupons, white paper download, advertising targeting specific campus. Brands can use these to reach their target customers and build their brands such as thought leaderships. Another example of IMC is a Norway-based company shoe brand Uncast combines proximity marketing with social media. Customers who walks into the shop and looks at a pair of shoes. They will receive a ‘retargeted pre-roll ad’ when they visit YouTube (Tom Wentworth, Mashable Asia, Get phygital: 5 tips for using beacons).

Proximity marketing enables brands to communicate with their customers through mobile devices. Brands can make use of the strategy to tap in the booming of usage in mobile devices. According to the ‘Global Digital Snapshot’, unique mobile users reached 3.79 billion in the world in January 2016. One of the proximity marketing apps Foursquare Swarm is a typical mobile application that ‘makes full use of a cell phone’s GPS’ (Professor Jaclyn Rhoads, Week 9 Social Media: Proximity Marketing, Review Sites, Industry Sites, MMC 5006: Introduction to Multimedia Communication). Brands request for access to current location from customers and they can push their promotional deals, coupons to customers who are ‘nearby’.

Google Maps are another app for brands to show up, not only the location of the shops but also facts about shops, customer reviews, other suggested locations on maps.

apm, a shopping mall brand in Hong Kong, on Google map. The map not only shows facts about the shopping mall but also ratings and customer reviews
Customers can click on the reviews and know about which places other people search for alongside ‘apm’

Another benefit of proximity marketing is customers can enjoy unusual experiences. In the video ‘Mobile Proximity Marketing, yourBlueZone’ demonstrates brands can push ‘real-time’ call-to-actions such as coupons, discounts, registrations to targeted customers who are within the area where Bluetooth is available to connect. Customers who opt in receiving these promotional items will be able to benefit. This can help brands drive sales. JiWire’s statistics shows that ‘57% of consumers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising’, ‘62% of consumers share local deals with friends’ (Greg Petro,, How Proximity Marketing Is Driving Retail Sales). Brands can gather customers’ data using proximity marketing to help enhance their sales strategies. For example, a boutique ‘STORY’ uses wireless technology in the store to understand customers’ behavior such as locations of the store where customers most visited. The data can help the store to decide the merchandise locations.

I think wearables such as hand bands, smartphone watches can strengthen proximity marketing. Brands can send notifications of latest promotions to their customers through apps and reminders sent to wearables too. The synchronization of push marketing content in wearables, mobile apps and social media can help branding. Starwood Hotels allow guests use wearables to check-in and use them as keys of hotel rooms using proximity marketing technology (Jamie Oetting,, Beacon, Bluetooth & Mobile: The Future of Content Marketing). The trend is that customers will get brands’ marketing content directly from their wearables, according to the article ‘How Wearable Tech is Changing Proximity Marketing‘.

Proximity marketing in Hong Kong is not as popular as in the United States. Only 49% of smartphone users in Hong Kong use location based services for payment and 24% of them ‘telling others about purchases made’ (Go-Globe, Smartphone usage in Hong Kong – Statistics and Trends).  A food chain store Pizza Hut is one of the few retailers that incorporates proximity marketing in their mobile app. The app is for members to keep track of their points and redeem coupons.


Members can also obtain real-time promotional deals in ‘Youpon’ through access of Bluetooth.


The app will notify members about queue tickets of all of the food stores. Customers will then know the time for queuing up on their way to the restaurant and allow them to decide which restaurants to go to.

The above services give incentives for members and potential customers to visit the restaurant again. My husband and I went to the restaurant last week and we decided to go there again coming week to redeem the coupons and try the ‘Youpon’!

I think my client The British Council in Hong Kong can refer to Boston Children’s Hospital as an example in applying proximity marketing for navigation (Jamie Oetting,, Beacon, Bluetooth & Mobile: The Future of Content Marketing). The British Council’s building has seven floors. Business operations are spread in different floors. For example, the International Pre-School is on the first floor, customer service center is on the third floor. English courses for children aged 1 to 3 and primary school students are held on the fourth floor while for secondary school students and adult students on the fifth floor. I think my client can have an app to help customers locate themselves using WIFI in the building. Customers can also opt in the app to obtain exclusive discounts of English courses, latest news and events and customer feedback.


Garrett Mehrguth, MOZ, ‘Hacking Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads: 5 Advanced Tips

Tom Wentworth, Mashable Asia, Get phygital: 5 tips for using beacons

We Are Social, Digital in 2016

Mobile Proximity Marketing, yourBlueZone, Video Co. Produced by EyeNotion LLC. and Overflow Marketing Communication,

Greg Petro,, How Proximity Marketing Is Driving Retail Sales

Prism Customer Story: STORY,

Jamie Oetting,, Beacon, Bluetooth & Mobile: The Future of Content Marketing

Social Retail, How Wearable Tech is Changing Proximity Marketing,

Go-Globe, Smartphone usage in Hong Kong – Statistics and Trends

Hilary Smith, TechCo, 4 Ways Wearable Tech Could Change Your Marketing Strategy



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