Sunday, April 29, 2012

Data Mining to Target your habits !

I just finished reading the book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg ( A must read for everybody in my opinion. But more about that in a later post). There is an interesting anecdote in the book about how the giant retail store Target performs data mining that I wanted to share with you..

It starts with the Marketing team wanting to market to parents before their babies arrived. The data mining teams gets to work and comes up with an algorithm (Habits like buying lot of unscented lotions as well as increased purchase of vitamins  etc.) and Coupons started to be sent to families where there was somebody pregnant. Everything is fine till an irate father walked into the local store and complains that Target was sending his high school daughter coupons for baby cloths and cribs ! He was worried that Target was encouraging his daughter to be come pregnant ! The manager apologizes profusely and cools down the man. The manager call the man back a few days to make sure he was okay. The father confesses that his daughter had spoken to him and she was actually pregnant and due in Aug !

Just imagine what happened. A person who lives with his daughter 24x7 has no clue that she is pregnant  while a machine sitting thousand of miles away could figure that out.

So next time you use your frequent buyer card, remember, you are sharing  a lot more information than you think !

Suddenly, privacy is no longer something you can take for granted !!

No comments:

Post a Comment