How Companies Mine Your Personal Information to Sell You Stuff You Didn’t Know You Needed Until You Knew You Needed It.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    The other day I went into the local national chain pharmacy to purchase some lubricant and I was surprised to see that the receipt was over a yard long with coupons for all sorts of vitamins, antihistamines and pain relievers.  It turns out that the “local” pharmacy uses quantitative data analytics to mine personal information to determine that certain transactions have predictive value for future purchases.

    Analyzing purchase habits is big business.  For instance, Target can figure out if you’re pregnant by your purchases and send you what you think are coincidental coupons.

    2 ft long receipt
    a two foot long receipt for making a purchase at CVS pharmacy


    When people think they are getting a discount by entering a tracking code, it really says, “Track me! Track my purchases!  Learn everything about me so you can sell me stuff!” This multiplied by a billion in combination with credit card data and other marketing data is big business.  Your data, whether it be your online browsing habits to what you ‘like’ online is up for grabs and worth a lot of money.

    Data miners know everything about you. They analyze human psychology to provide what appear to be beneficial perks and create environments that are conducive to spending.   Companies use scripts, colors, and environmental cues to gain your trust and encourage you to get in, spend, and part you with your money in a pleasant manner.

    The whole definition of “economy” is based off the idea that people buy and sell goods.  Big data is creating new “needs” by using this information to send us coupons and offers for products that we didn’t know we needed, but has analyzed our purchasing and demographic profiles to figure out that we needed them.

    Every purchase you make on your store loyalty card identifies you, and mechanisms are in place to sell you more stuff in the future.  In the lube situation, depending on my coupon use afterwards, the company will know how to further market stuff I “need.” So how can I convince them that I am deeply violent with bizarre and uncontrollable sexual urges to get discounts on the things I actually like?

    doggie thong

    I have a fetish for dogs wearing sunglasses

    The thing to remember is that the modern world is interconnected with machines that want to know you better than you think you know you.   IBM isn’t simply a company that makes chess playing computers.  Their whole business model is built off sharing consumer data amongst companies and other entities to increase economic efficiencies.

    To counter the idea of big companies selling you stuff you didn’t know you needed until you needed it, it’s a good idea to buy stuff that you know you don’t need to make them think you knew you needed it.  Then return this stuff you made them think you knew you needed that is not actually needed and use the coupons in the future from the stuff you bought that you knew you didn’t need but convinced them you knew you needed to actually purchase stuff that both you know you need and they know you need.  At a reduced price of course.


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