Tag Archives: shopping

How Companies Learn Your Secrets – NYTimes.com

16 Feb

That little piece of plastic you have that gets you discounts at the supermarket? Well, it also lets the retailer learn your habits; that’s why the give it to you. The more the know about your habits, the more accurately they can sell to you.

Andrew Pole was hired by Target to use the same kinds of insights into consumers’ habits to expand Target’s sales. His assignment was to analyze all the cue-routine-reward loops among shoppers and help the company figure out how to exploit them. Much of his department’s work was straightforward: find the customers who have children and send them catalogs that feature toys before Christmas. Look for shoppers who habitually purchase swimsuits in April and send them coupons for sunscreen in July and diet books in December. But Pole’s most important assignment was to identify those unique moments in consumers’ lives when their shopping habits become particularly flexible and the right advertisement or coupon would cause them to begin spending in new ways.

In the 1980s, a team of researchers led by a U.C.L.A. professor named Alan Andreasen undertook a study of peoples’ most mundane purchases, like soap, toothpaste, trash bags and toilet paper. They learned that most shoppers paid almost no attention to how they bought these products, that the purchases occurred habitually, without any complex decision-making. Which meant it was hard for marketers, despite their displays and coupons and product promotions, to persuade shoppers to change.

But when some customers were going through a major life event, like graduating from college or getting a new job or moving to a new town, their shopping habits became flexible in ways that were both predictable and potential gold mines for retailers.

via How Companies Learn Your Secrets – NYTimes.com.


The shadow of suspicion falls in the Mall of America – National security – Salon.com

8 Sep

Are these Homeland Security folks nuts? If you harass shoppers, they’ll stop shopping. We don’t want that, do we? Of are they trying to scare us to keep indoors and shop online, where they can watch us 24/7?

Mall of America officials say their security unit stops and questions on average up to 1,200 people each year. With 4.2 million square feet under one roof, the two-decade-old mall is a monument to suburban shopping and entertainment. Nearly 100,000 people from around the world pass through on a given day.

The interviews at the mall are part of a counterterrorism initiative that acts as the private eyes and ears of law enforcement authorities but has often ensnared innocent people, according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR.

via The shadow of suspicion falls in the Mall of America – National security – Salon.com.