Facial Recognition in Global Marketing

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Benefits of Facial Recognition

The face is one of the most powerful channels for communicating emotion. Our everyday emotions depict how well we remember events, brands, and products. There are many benefits for a business or organization wanting to utilize facial recognition for marketing. Facial recognition allows market researchers to analyze facial expressions inexpensively at scale. With traditional means of analysis, such as focus groups and contemporary neuroscience techniques, humans can be biased or unwilling to share their true opinions. Facial recognition captures a participant’s unbiased and unfiltered emotional reactions in an unobtrusive manner.

Through the study of various dimensions of emotion (valence, attention, expressiveness/intensity) and study of various discreet emotions (enjoyment, concentration, surprise, dislike, and skepticism/doubt), brands can better understand their consumers and build a stronger emotional connection.

For example, utilizing facial recognition software in video ads, advertisers are able to “select the best animation, optimize scenes and story arcs, create cut-downs, evaluate wear-out effects, determine media spend and conduct predictive analytics for in-market performance” (Cateroa, Gilly, Graham, and Money). Brands are able to A/B test their content, as well as compare with brands in their product category or rank.

Through analysis of facial recognition data, a brand or organization can improve connections with consumers through evoking certain emotions that can increase sharing behavior, brand loyalty, and increase purchasing decision. Facial recognition technology can empower a brand or organization with valuable data to make informed marketing and business decisions.

Facial Recognition In Use

Snapchat, one of the pioneers of facial-recognition software, allows marketers to utilize facial recognition within their marketing strategy. Snapchat allows brands and organizations to create filters that mold to the user’s face. Taco Bell and Gatorade are a few examples of brands that have used Snapchat’s facial-recognition software for marketing. The brand can see how many people used the filter, how many times the filter was shared, and even swipe ups or views to a specific landing page.

Media companies are also using facial recognition to test movie trailers, characters in TV pilots, and optimal placement of TV promotions. Facebook currently uses facial-recognition software to tag photos of people automatically. Apple uses facial-recognition software in their products so users can easily unlock devices, log in to apps and websites, and even make purchases. Expedia created a micro-website that features a variety of activities available to visitors in Hawaii: “The site’s custom-build facial-recognition software was able to determine which footage had the most positive reaction on the user and offer a discounted vacation package accordingly” (Yap-McNamara). These examples show how brands and organizations can benefit from utilizing facial-recognition software for marketing.

Be Culturally Sensitive

Due to differing cultural display rules, marketers must be careful about facial expressions and body language in global marketing. Cultural display rules can be defined as cultural norms learned early in life that govern the regulation of expressive behavior depending on social contexts (Matsumoto & Hwang).

At a young age, humans learn to alter their expressions based on social circumstances and cultural upbringing. Collectivist cultures like China and India are more likely to reduce and mask their emotions, while individualist cultures like the United States are more likely to amplify their emotions.

Due to various differences, it is imperative for global marketers to study and understand the facial expressions and body language of a certain culture prior to entering a foreign market. Misinterpretation of a nation’s culture can be detrimental for a brand or organization.

Privacy and Security

Face recognition software intrudes on privacy. Security is another major concern. Computers and humans will be monitoring other humans. In some cultures, this may be taboo; while for other cultures, it is accepted.

People in the United States do not like the idea that they are being watched. When facial recognition technology is used for marketing, opponents of facial recognition software argue that people are being manipulated and taken advantage of by businesses or organizations. In addition, facial recognition technology poses a risk for people whose images are stored and used for marketing. Their data can be hacked and used without permission.

On the other hand, some may argue that they approve of facial recognition technology. Some people enjoy personalized marketing content and find it more relatable and relevant to their tastes. Privacy and security will be two major concerns affected by facial recognition technology. A marketer wanting to utilize facial recognition technology will need to research and understand whether the foreign market they are trying to enter approves or disapproves of such technology.


There are many benefits to utilizing facial recognition in marketing and business. However, understanding the culture and traditions of the target market is of the utmost importance. A marketer will need to adapt their marketing strategy to cater to the local people.

If facial recognition is culturally accepted, there could be great benefits for a brand. If facial recognition is not culturally accepted, the marketer should look for other ways to reach their customers.

As a global marketer, one should develop and execute marketing strategies catered to the foreign market. A global marketer should never take a one-size-fits-all approach, as facial expressions and body language can hold completely different meanings.


Cateora, P. R., Gilly, M. C., Graham, J. L., & Money, R. B. (2016). International Marketing . New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Matsumoto, D., & Hwang, H. (2013). Cultural Display Rules. Wiley Online Library . Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9781118339893.wbeccp126

Yap-McNamara, J. (2018). Why Brands Should Be Using Facial Recognition. AdWeek . Retrieved from https://www.adweek.com/digital/why-brands-should-be-using-facial-recognition/