So you think you can hide?

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It comes to a point where everyone is fair game. We all use our debit cards when we purchase items so there is a good chance we are in a system somewhere that is tracking the potential of our next purchase and what it will possibly be. The success behind this is all tied into database marketing.

It might sound bland but it is absolutely amazing what companies can find out about us based upon our buying habits. In one famous case involving an angry father and his teenage daughter, the father came into Target complaining about ads for baby clothes and cribs sent to his teenage daughter. He was appalled and demanded that they stopped. After the manager apologized various times the father later admitted he found out his daughter was actually due in August. Situations like these are astonishing and can really open up your eyes to the power of database marketing. It allows companies to gain insight on customer details, even if it hasn’t been provided to them.

The key here is to not be too blatant about what you actually know about consumers. Companies have to be careful how far they take certain information because it can lead to a slippery slope that they are ultimately trying to avoid. According to Charles Duhigg from the New York Times, Target has a Guest ID for each consumer and they can collect data such as your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. And this is where database marketing comes into play. From here Target is able to analyze their consumers and market specifically for them. This is when the importance of ad placement comes into play. Target does not want you to know that you are being personally marketed to and that they know more about you than you ever have realized.

Database marketing is undeniably effective but can make one wonder how far can a company dig before they know too much? It will inevitably grow considering that it is capable of providing the ultimate experience for the consumer. Marketers use the data to learn more about customers and compare customers’ value to the company and provide more specialized offerings for customers.

So, basically next time you buy something you don’t want anyone to know about- use cash.

Sources:

http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/how-companies-learn-your-secrets-nytimes-com.pdf

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