Now, maybe I’m naive, but I was shocked by what I learned from the article “How Companies Learn Your Secrets.” I knew companies had access to a lot of information, but according to this article, there is a lot more companies know than you think. At Target, each customer has a Guest ID number, which keeps a record of everything you buy as well as if you use a credit card or coupon, fill out a survey, mail in a refund, call customer service, open an email, or visit Target’s website. All this information gets recorded and linked to your Guest ID. So yes that is a lot of information, but this is not what I found so shocking. It is all the other information that is linked to your Guest ID that shocks me, such as, 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.
Target can also buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, and your political leanings. So you know, just the basic, personal details all Target’s should know.. Not.
Although I find this all very creepy, Target uses this information to learn about their customers so they can ensure their customers are using Target as their primary store and getting all their products from Target. Target uses the science of habit formation to accomplish this goal and a main component in the habit formation is all the personal details of customers.
The article gives the example of a women who buy swimsuits in April. Send those customers coupons for sunscreen in July and diet books in December. Makes sense, right? So although Target and other large retailers are using the science of habit to hook and reel customers in, I can’t help but feel a bit violated. A lot of the information they are gathering is very personal and it raises a concern of where they are obtaining it all from. Like i said at the beginning of the article, I may be naive about this whole topic because I would be lying if i said my mouth and eyes weren’t wide open in shock as I read this article.
I am going to have to start paying closer attention to what coupons Target sends me. What does your Guest ID say about you? Just take a look at your coupons to see if you can figure it out.