Roller Facial Recognition
October 16, 2017

The Emotional Marketing of Facial Recognition

Written By Nikki McCaig

The latest overlap of digital tech and emotional marketing falls to facial recognition, as product retailers reach for new user-interactive technologies.

The highly anticipated release of the iPhone 8 was supported by a series of leaks, rumours and spoilers, detailing the most innovative and exciting new features of the popular smartphone. With new UX design features, a wide-screen focus and reduced buffers, the appeal of the phone definitely lay in its unique structure, yet it was the introduction of facial recognition that appeared to be the highlight of the headlines.

Users had only just gotten used to the concept of thumbprint recognition, with their technological devices becoming increasingly personalised to their user, but the new level of personal identification marks a new trend in digital interactivity. But is there more to the idea of facial recognition than just a quirky hands-free way to unlock your phone?

Increased Accessibility

Perhaps the most accessible benefit of facial recognition software is it’s ability to be increasingly inclusive for all iPhone users. For users with disabilities, or conditions which may make physically unlocking a phone difficult, this feature is going to be a huge advantage in reaching that previously untouched demographic of mobile operators. It can also mean that users who need to open their phones quickly, in emergency situations, for example, don’t have to physically touch their phone to open it up and start using it. The hands-free option is bound to open up a new target audience of accessible mobile users, making facial recognition a great addition to the disability-friendly technology community.

Emotional Marketing

One of the most interesting aspects of facial recognition, however, is the introduction of emotional judgement when marketing the product. The variety of facial expressions required to access your phone is required to be vast and inclusive; inclusive of skin tone, appearance, wet hair/dry hair, make up/no make up, scars, spots, glasses, tears, hats, hairstyles and tans. This means that the user stories process involved in creating this software must also be as detailed and considerate as possible, with designers plotting for every instance where a user may unlock their phone.

The scenarios of different lighting, distances, physical spaces, appearances, camera qualities and accessibility must all have been plotted and pre-considered as the service was developed. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most effective way to improve and enhance customer value is to connect with them on a deeper, more emotive level – by ‘tapping into their unspoken emotional needs’. Marketers can use the ‘unspoken’ elements of facial recognition to evolve a new form of hyper personalisation, using nothing but facial movements and detection to understand what their user needs. This highly sensitive piece of technology could easily be adapted for increasingly personalised content, advertising, and mobile interactions depending on a person’s mood. For example, should the technology recognise a strong emotion, such as anger or distress, it can introduce selective advertising strategies based upon that analysis – promoting certain food brands, music playlists, TV shows or even helplines to correspond with the user’s facial giveaways.

More and more retailers are adapting facial recognition software to improve upon their existing personalisation models and strategies, and it’s easy to see why. By understanding your consumer on a new, emotional level, marketing takes on an entirely different form – as your sympathetic friend, rather than your pushy salesman. The emotional marketing of facial recognition can only improve in 2018, and beyond that, who knows what our phones might do next?