Is the bathroom Amazon’s next frontier?

Discussion
Jan 07, 2015

Identifying and capitalizing on previously unexplored consumer behaviors seems to be a go-to strategy for Amazon these days, as the company rolls out new offering after new offering to see what sticks. With its Amazon Lockers, its one-hour delivery and its talking in-house personal shopper, Amazon Echo, to name a few, Amazon is attempting to further engrain the company into peoples’ habits and daily schedules.

Amazon now appears to be going where few other businesses have ventured. In December, the company revealed plans to address a consumer behavior that, while uncomfortable for some to acknowledge, is an unavoidable reality of the information age.

Smartphones and laptops have replaced books and magazines as peoples’ primary time-burner while they (to put it politely) powder their noses. And so Amazon has partnered with Procter & Gamble to target interactive ads at people using public bathrooms, a previously untapped — and one might say captive — audience.

A Money article reports that the advertisements, placed in public bathrooms in various U.S. cities, will feature barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone with the Amazon app to redeem coupons for bathroom-related items like toothpaste and toilet paper, as well as other products such as batteries and paper towels. The campaign, called "Stall Mall," is using the tagline, "Sit, Shop and Save."

A recent Charmin survey, CNN reported, showed a third of Americans like to be "productive" while on the toilet. Thirteen percent of people who have shopped on the toilet have bought household items.

While there’s no doubt the rollout is intentionally irreverent, the data on bathroom mobile usage is no joke. According to a Daily Mail article from 2012, "in a study of mobile phone habits, about 75 percent of those questioned admitted to surfing the web, using apps, emailing and texting while in the toilet." Mobile device usage has no doubt increased markedly since then, and bathroom usage has presumably remained constant.

Tech innovations, too, may soon make initiatives like Amazon’s Stall Mall sound less silly. Over the past few years, technology researchers from various camps have been trying to figure out how to generate lots of revenue from bathroom time.

According to an ExtremeTech article, The New York Times Research & Development Lab was working on using a Kinect camera to allow people to surf the web and click on advertisements from their bathroom mirrors. Gizmag reports that researchers from the Koike Laboratory at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications have created an "Aquatop" display, which allows users to interact online with a display that projects onto a body of water — as in bathwater.

Will the Stall Mall be a success for Amazon and will we see similar initiatives from others? Does the potential to reach consumers in bathrooms offer opportunities beyond the sale of household items?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

14 Comments on "Is the bathroom Amazon’s next frontier?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Whether or not it is a success, I have to salute Amazon for innovation. Few companies, other than Google, are willing to consistently try new ideas, some of which will yield sales and profits.

If consumers like to spend their toilet time doing other things, why not scan a bar code for instant savings? Many men’s rooms have been posting newspapers and sports headlines for years. With the rise of portable devices why waste an opportunity to get some shopping done?

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
7 years 4 months ago

Oh, it’s cute, I guess. And annoying (have we learned nothing about how consumers are managing to avoid and ignore interruption marketing?). And unsanitary! Do people really use their mobile phones in stalls? I’m waiting for the kid’s science fair project that shows how much bacteria live on mobile phones before we have an end to that practice—and the advertising that goes with it.

Liz Crawford
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

This is taking “captive audience” to new, ridiculous lows … forget it.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Please—can we have some privacy here?

Chris Petersen, PhD
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

It doesn’t matter—Amazon wins either way.

The stats are definitely in Amazon’s favor in terms of omni-channel shopping occurring anytime and everywhere. Why not promotion in the bathroom? And localized QR codes could enable incredible tracking on conversion rates by market, location, etc.

At the end of the day, Edison did not invent the light bulb by trying to improve the candle. This is yet another great example of Amazon’s DNA focused on constant evolution and disruption.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Seriously? Leave me alone. I will be finished soon.

Tony Orlando
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I’m sure there is a market for this, and why not. People are addicted to their phones, and as a marketing man myself, Amazon has the R&D marketing money to try just about any outlandish idea they want. I love the outside-the-box thinking, and some people do their best thinking in the stall. Who knows, but Amazon loves the publicity, and if someone sits in the stall long enough, Amazon can deliver the TP to the customer before they finish their business, and that my friends would be a market changer.

Doug Fleener
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

If anything you have to love the name Stall Mall. Why didn’t Sky Mall think of that?

I like it. I think a lot more people use their smartphones during these “visits” than they care to admit. Now the time becomes even more productive.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

With Stall Mall, Amazon has found a brilliant way to cater to a very captive audience. Consumers can shop for household necessities and Amazon can gain new followers to the Amazon app. Smart to partner with Proctor & Gamble and test out in LA, NYC, Philadelphia and Seattle.

The potential for targeted interactive ads in public restrooms is huge, and I’d like to see this grow to be be location specific, say, movie and concession specific in theaters, or brand specific in malls, for example.

And why not? Consumers who do not want to engage can ignore, and that 33% who want to be productive, why not given them the opportunity?

Love it.

Arie Shpanya
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I definitely agree with the salute to Amazon on this one. Is there anywhere they won’t go (for better or for worse)? I think shoppers will be creeped out by this one, but that doesn’t mean they won’t use it.

Of course this could lead to increased sales of a number of products, but especially routine purchases that don’t take much deliberation. While Amazon’s new idea might be a bit out there, it’s definitely a sign that retailers are starting to understand that targeted advertising and discounts are most useful to shoppers. When retailers can remind consumers to shop at the best time, in the best place, they will be able to truly capitalize on the market.

Kai Clarke
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Yes. This is already being used by many advertising platforms, and the ability to shop in addition to the advertising merit seems to be a no brainer.

Dave Wendland
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I think this brings a whole new definition to “bowl games.” And, yes, I think others will follow. Wherever there are captive shoppers, brands will look to intersect … and drive sales.

Naureen Amjad
Guest
Naureen Amjad
7 years 4 months ago

Seems like the notion of privacy belongs to the stone age. I am a private person, and can’t help feeling so very old!

Christina Ellwood
Guest
Christina Ellwood
7 years 4 months ago

It’s common knowledge that tablets have been used in toilets since the iPad was first released. In our busy lives, every opportunity to check items off our to-do lists is appealing. There are even commercials promoting the idea that we can buy anywhere/anytime—witness the ads with people doing crazy, physical acts such as dancing while purchasing.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely would you be to redeem an Amazon coupon from Stall Mall?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...