image
image

Blog

PSST, YOU ON AISLE 5!

Some 30+ years ago, retailer loyalty cards came into existence and with them the dream that, one day, marketers could know your habits, what you buy and thereby figure out how to sell you more. That dream has quietly become reality. Powerful computing algorithms and clever marketers today know you, your purchase habits and preferences, and are working overtime to attract your attention.

Charles Duhigg has written a new book about it all. Articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and a host of magazines trumpet The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. It’s fascinating stuff – and a little scary.

No one likes to feel manipulated but everyone wants to be understood. Like Norm Peterson in the long-running sitcom Cheers, you want people to know you, even greet you by name, when you enter the store. You want the store to have what you want when you want it. Getting to know us through our purchases histories helps stores have the things we want, at prices we’re willing to pay, when we want them. It’s win-win, right?

One counter argument is that we are inherently private people. We don’t want just anybody to know us. We want to decide who knows our likes, dislikes, preferences and purchases. And that’s our right, right? Sure. But we give away some of that right when we respond to incentives offered by marketers and retailers to share information. When we do, we win discounts and lose a little privacy. By the numbers, it appears to be a trade many willingly make.