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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Target Targets Pregnant Women

You're pregnant! How do you break the news? Some women buy baby balloons. If there's a child already, they can put him or her in a big brother / big sister shirt. Some women actually bake buns and put them in the oven for their partner to find (I saw this somewhere. I never would have thought of it myself.)

I decided on "crying, sit down when I tell you this, oh my God, what are we going to do" approach, but I realize not everyone can be that romantic.

Or, you know, Target could accidentally spill the beans before you get around to telling anyone.

For the link-shy, basically, Target connects all purchases you make to your name and uses the information to determine what is going on in your life. They then send you coupons for things you might need based on your recent and overall purchases.

One of their biggest gains using this technique is the "baby on board" campaign, where they send pregnant women coupons for baby stuff. They've gone full-throttle, and as a reward, gained much of the baby market.

On the one hand, it's brilliant. I love their ingenuity. On the other hand, it's creepy. Really creepy.

Hospitals and doctors are required to keep medical confidentiality, patients sign HIPAA consent forms and have strict limits on who can access their files, and pregnancy is one of those medical issues that spans over the guardian - child relationship so that the child, if under 18, has the right not to inform her parents.

But Target can.

In the case referenced by the story, an irate father stormed to Target customer service with the coupon packet in hand, demanding to know why Target was sending his underage daughter baby discounts. He later returned and apologized. His daughter was pregnant. Target knew, but he didn't.

And I'm not the only one side-eyeing them. Target's marketing committee found that when the store sent out pamphlets containing nothing but coupons for items they actually need, people didn't use the coupons. They were too freaked out.

So, Target began interspersing the useful coupons with random coupons and ads for things that the customers wouldn't need. A lawnmower next to the baby bag, making it appear like a random assortment of coupons that everyone on the block received.


They started using the coupons again.

So now, Target knows everything about you, and is pretending that it doesn't. ...stalker.

Apparently, it realized this practice, while ridiculously successful, is also a little off, because the reporter doing the story got one great interview with them, and then they shut off communication entirely, even prohibiting him from going to headquarters.

Of all the flags raised by this story, that right there, for me, is the biggest one. Whatchoo doing, Target?

Anyway, I'm not saying don't shop there. I know I like their products. I'm just thinking maybe I'll use cash next time.

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1 comment:

  1. WHAT? I have a Target card even and I have NEVER gotten a Target coupon. Why don't they know anything about me? They must know I WANT coupons, so they're going to make me pay full price. Jerks.



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