Posts Tagged ‘Target’

Flashback: Remember when Target caused a stir by ID’ing moms-to-be?

June 15, 2016

Now, researchers are trolling your web searches to auto-detect diseases.

The Washington Post recently channeled a study done by Microsoft — published in the Journal of Oncology Practice …

The essence: Microsoft’s big data analysts ID’ed folks who were querying questions like “how to treat pancreatic cancer” — hypothesizing that they might have been diagnosed with the disease.

Then, the researchers backtracked thru the prior searches done by those folks and detected a pattern of precedent queries that revolved around symptoms, e.g. abdominal swelling.

Bottom line:  the researchers were able to use the inferred pattern of symptoms to early-predict a disease diagnosis for a statistically significant number people who queried symptoms.

That’s potentially big news in disease diagnosis, though doctors caution that for many diseases, the onset of patient-queried symptoms may be too late-stage for effective treatment.

 

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The Microsoft query- disease analysis reminded me of how Target created some Big Data buzz for analyzing purchase patterns to ID moms-to-be. 

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Flashback: Remember when Target caused a stir by aiming at moms-to-be?

June 11, 2013

The Feds’ phone & internet surveillance programs that were revealed last week have raised the public’s consciousness re: Big Data.

Remember when Target created some Big Data buzz for analyzing purchase patterns to ID moms-to-be?

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In a previous post, we excepted from a NY Times article How Companies Learn Your Secrets that

  1. Much of what people do is based on habits, not conscious reasoning.
  2. Consumers’ shopping habits and brand loyalties are often more habitual than thoughtful.
  3. But, there are certain “events” — e.g. new baby, new home, recent divorce — that seem to make consumers more open to switching stores and brands.
  4. Savvy marketers are learning to identify these critical events — before they happen — and try to get consumers to switch  their behavior.

Target is one of the retailers identifying customers who are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers” … and pouncing on them.

Who?  Moms-to-be.

How are they doing it?

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JCP CEO: “You’re fired for not making my dumb idea work”

June 19, 2012

Michael Francis helped make Target a roaring success.  So, JC Penney CEO  Ron Johnson offered him a $12 million signing bonus to jump ships. Francis took the bait.

Bad decision …except for the $12 million … which Francis gets before the tax rates jump on Jan. 1.

Now, Francis taking the fall for Johnson’s “no sales” strategy’s failure to ignite consumer interest.

Johnson’s still claiming that his idea is fine but it wasn’t marketed right.  That there was a failure to communicate.

After all, a sleek logo and aggressive “retail list price maintenance” worked at Apple … so why shouldn’t it work at a commodity rag place like JCP?

Excerpted from BrandChannel:

J. C. Penney ousted its JC Penney brand president, Michael Francis.

Francis was hired last October “at great expense” — a whopping $12 million signing bonus — from Target.

He  is seen as taking the fall for his boss, company CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple top retailer who oversaw JCP’s new brand strategy in January.

Johnson who championed the idea of killing coupons and sales in favor of “fair and square pricing” (a reference to its logo), so-called “month long value” and “everyday low” pricing.

JCP recently scrapped that strategy and is re-embracing the dreaded s-word — “sale.”

CEO Johnson “will assume direct responsibility and oversight of the company’s marketing and merchandising functions.”

Ken’s Take: If I were JCP, I would have fired the Apple guy and kept the target guy … eventually, they’ll fire the CEO, too … and probably promote their VP Finance to interim CEO … as soon as it becomes evident that the critical Christmas season is a bust

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In case you missed it, I was on NPR a couple of weeks ago commenting on the JCP strategy.

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Overheard in the faculty lounge … re: the Target flap.

March 6, 2012

By now, everybody has heard how Target mines data on shoppers to ID when they’re approaching life events — e.g. having a baby — that make them “vulnerable to marketing initiatives.”

The reaction of many marketers seems to be: “why aren’t we doing that?”

The reaction of shoppers is predictably negative: “Invasion of privacy”, “manipulative”, “creepy”.

The reaction in the faculty lounge is interesting.

Background: a branch of marketing studies consumer behavior … how and why consumers think and act … why they pick one brand over another, etc.

There seems to be concern among some academic CB researchers that their findings are  being hijacked by evil profiteers, to the disadvantage of the masses:

Consumer behavior research clearly helps the stores in the “attack” on the consumer. Does CB help in the development of the “defense” of the consumer?

One colleague sought to allay any pangs of guilt:

The “consumerism” defense is that the findings can be used to benefit both producers and consumers.

Any way, as [a famous consumer researcher] used to argue “the effects we study are so small in the real setting that any harm done is minimal.”

Now, that’s a rallying cry for you …

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Target the targeter becomes the target … very predictable.

February 27, 2012

This is going to be hard for Target to shake.

The NYT revelations that Target has been mining its data bases to early-identify pregnant women and “change their buying behaviors when they’re vulnerable to marketing initiatives” has gone viral.

Now, Target has become a target …

Here’s a funny piece from the Colbert Report:

click to view
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Thanks to RG for feeding the lead

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Target bellies up to moms-to-be … by mining their shopping patterns.

February 22, 2012

In a previous post, we excepted from a NY Times article How Companies Learn Your Secrets that

  1. Much of what people do is based on habits, not conscious reasoning.
  2. Consumers’ shopping habits and brand loyalties are often more habitual than thoughtful.
  3. But, there are certain “events” — e.g. new baby, new home, recent divorce — that seem to make consumers more open to switching stores and brands.
  4. Savvy marketers are learning to identify these critical events — before they happen — and try to get consumers to switch  their behavior.

Target is one of the retailers identifying customers who are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers” … and pouncing on them.

Who?  Moms-to-be.

How?

According to the NY Times article, Target identified about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed them to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score.

For example, sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women tend to load up on body lotions and supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc.

With that information in their computer systems, Target can identify likely pregnant women and, more important,  estimate their due dates, so that  Target can send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.

It’s a bit unbelievable … and a lot creepy.

And, oh yeah, it works.

But, gotta wonder why Target let this cat out of the bag …  if this story goes viral,  the privacy concerns are likely to offset the added sales to moms-to-be.

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Hitting consumers when they’re “vulnerable to intervention by marketers”…

February 21, 2012

Punch line: Many of consumers’  buying behaviors are habitual — deeply ingrained and difficult of to change.  Marketers have to identify times when consumers are open to change and get them. to break  their habits. 

The good news: the are times when consumers are, in fact, ripe for change …

In the 1980s, a team of researchers led by a U.C.L.A. professor named Alan Andreasen (now at MSB) 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.

The study found that:

  • When someone marries, he or she is more likely to start buying a new type of coffee.
  • When a couple move into a new house, they’re more apt to purchase a different kind of cereal.
  • When they divorce, there’s an increased chance they’ll start buying different brands of beer.

At those unique moments, Andreasen wrote, customers are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers.”

In other words, a precisely timed advertisement, sent to a recent divorcee or new homebuyer, can change someone’s shopping patterns for years.

Excerpted from NY Times, How Companies Learn Your Secrets, by Charles Duhigg

Note that Prof. Andreasen didn’t just pick off the obvious stuff — e.g. new parents buying baby stuff,  new home owners furnishing their new digs, or divorcees buying new duds.

No, the life-changers seem willing to change many of their buying patterns and brand loyalties.

Next: How Target identifies customers who are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers”  … and pounces on them.

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Target flexes muscle to thwart “showrooming” … good luck!

February 1, 2012

TakeAway: Target is flexing its buying power over suppliers to ward off increasing competition from online retailers such as Amazon.

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Excerpt from WSJ: “Showdown Over ‘Showrooming’”

Target is asking suppliers for help in thwarting “showrooming” — that is, when shoppers come into a store to see a product in person, only to buy it from a rival online, frequently at a lower price.

Target suggested that suppliers create special products that would set it apart from competitors and shield it from the price comparisons that have become so easy for shoppers to perform online. Target asked the suppliers to help it match rivals’ prices.

Vendors are likely to have little choice but to play ball with Target because of its clout as the second-largest discount chain.

Some analysts said Target’s new tactics are unlikely to reverse the showrooming trend.

Online-only retailers have significantly lower labor costs and, at least, for the time being don’t collect sales tax in most states.

Amazon can sell products so cheaply because it uses its other profitable units — such as cloud data storage and fees it charges others to sell on its website — to subsidize the rest of its business.

Edited by ARK

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