Two Perspectives from the Target Targeting “Controversy” – Consumers vs. Marketing

In case you haven’t seen the “Target is Targeting” story floating around in the social media world, Target sent a high school student coupons for baby items to her home address and her father was furious. As it turned out, Target knew the man’s daughter was pregnant before he did.

Click image for original location.

Companies, like Target, are monitoring your buys and figuring out trends. They can tell which trimester of pregnancy you might be in by what lotion and what other items you are buying. They can tell if you are having a boy or a girl. They can tell if you are vegetarian, vegan, etc. Most birth records are also public, so the moment you have a baby… marketers already have an entire coupon journey planned for you and you will start to receive them immediately.

By simply studying buying trends, the stores we shop at are and will continue to send us targeting coupons and items based on our buying trends. This is a quote from Andrew Pole, statistician for Target, via the NY Time “How Companies Learn Your Secrets” article:

“We knew that if we could identify them in their second trimester, there’s a good chance we could capture them for years,” Pole told me. “As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they’re going to start buying everything else too. If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you’ll grab a carton. Oh, and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon, you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us, and keep coming back.”

Click image for original location.

The Consumer Perspective:

Since this seems like new knowledge to consumers, there has been some expectant backlash with comments like:

“This is SO creepy!!”

“Stop going through my statistics and stop targeting me!”

“I do not want all these stupid companies to know all this about me!”

Consumers do not seem to be so happy about these types of situations. In reality, the situation with Target where they knew a man’s daughter was pregnant before he did… is not Target’s fault. Many are offering the solution of using cash to buy items instead of they won’t be “data mined” and that would probably work for a while.

The Marketing Perspective:

Genius. Absolute genius. Actual targeting of things consumers actually buy = sales. THE number ONE marketing goal is usually sales. Goal achieved!! This is what marketers do.

If marketers can actually get coupons, sale notices, etc. to consumers for things they will actually buy and be interested in, they are doing their job.

My perspective(s):

While I could definitely see this as being “creepy” and a little “invasive,” I think I would actually appreciate more targeted coupons. For example, while writing this post, I literally got an email from Old Navy about 20% off men’s polos. There’s a slight problem with this. I’m not male and I do not buy male polos at Old Navy. They’ve missed their audience here:

In my sincere opinion, mothers in need and any shopper in general would be MUCH happier to receive targeted coupons of things they actually buy instead of an email from Old Navy I got about 20% off men’s polos I will never buy.

What is your opinion on this? Would you like to receive more targeted coupons?

8 thoughts on “Two Perspectives from the Target Targeting “Controversy” – Consumers vs. Marketing

  1. I am ALL FOR targeted coupons! Extreme Couponing has got me loving coupons but I’ve had a hard time finding any coupons at all for the things I normally buy. If I’m going to opt-in to notifications from a retailer, I want them to be relevant. I love the emails I get from Amazon because sometimes their recommendations are so on-point that I already have the product! Knowing that the products in the email will be relevant keeps me from trashing it when my inbox is too full!

    1. Hi Brittany –

      That’s what I’m thinking! I think once consumers get past the whole “this is creepy” and “this is invasive” mindset, they will appreciate more targeted coupons for relevant products as you suggested. I too love Amazon emails because they are SO targeted that I’m so likely to buy what they send me!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I am ALL FOR targeted coupons! Extreme Couponing has got me loving coupons but I’ve had a hard time finding any coupons at all for the things I normally buy. If I’m going to opt-in to notifications from a retailer, I want them to be relevant. I love the emails I get from Amazon because sometimes their recommendations are so on-point that I already have the product! Knowing that the products in the email will be relevant keeps me from trashing it when my inbox is too full!

    1. Hi Brittany –
      That’s what I’m thinking! I think once consumers get past the whole “this is creepy” and “this is invasive” mindset, they will appreciate more targeted coupons for relevant products as you suggested. I too love Amazon emails because they are SO targeted that I’m so likely to buy what they send me!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Hi, Lauren. I’m with you on this one! While I can absolutely see the “creepiness” in this process it is actually very helpful. I appreciate how transparent the statistician from Target is about the entire situation. I think his willingness to openly discuss the strategy made it less taboo. After reading his reasoning you have to stop and think: Why wouldn’t a company with resources as abundant as Target target specific audiences?
    Apple does the same thing, and I think they gave it the right name: Genius.

  4. Hi, Lauren. I’m with you on this one! While I can absolutely see the “creepiness” in this process it is actually very helpful. I appreciate how transparent the statistician from Target is about the entire situation. I think his willingness to openly discuss the strategy made it less taboo. After reading his reasoning you have to stop and think: Why wouldn’t a company with resources as abundant as Target target specific audiences?Apple does the same thing, and I think they gave it the right name: Genius.

  5. I cannot fault Target for this; If your personal information is available to them, it is only smart for them to use it. Most people aren’t shy about the information they put online and in other public places. For this reason they cannot be shocked when it comes back to them.

  6. I cannot fault Target for this; If your personal information is available to them, it is only smart for them to use it. Most people aren’t shy about the information they put online and in other public places. For this reason they cannot be shocked when it comes back to them.

Share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s