Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Target Knows Your Daughter Is Pregnant Before You Do?

  The major retailer Target is an aggressive user of market research and consumer analytics, like most of their competitors. Back in early 2011, the New York Times recently ran a story you may have missed about these market research techniques, specifically Target's use of high-end statistical models to accurately predict consumer behavior at various significant moments of a consumer's life.

  While compiling information about consumer's buying habits, lifestyles, income, financial history, etc. isn't new, it seems the direction some of the recent research Target used is, some might say, controversial.

An excerpt from the New York Times article from January 2011:

...a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.
“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.
On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”


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