January 24, 2006 by Colin
Yet another retailer has started asking for my phone number, “so we can serve you better, sir!” I like shopping there, but not enough to let them track and target my purchasing habits. The very dutiful image of a dedicated shopper, I hand over my cell phone number – with the digits transposed at random. A cell phone that has outward call display blocked, so that it doesn’t even show up in reverse directories.
There isn’t much dedication in the clerk’s request, a clear sign that they’re used to getting questions – and sometimes abuse – in response. I wonder if I could just feed them a 555 number? Would the cashier care? What about 867-5309? Would they even notice? “Geez. That’s a popular number?”
Somewhere, there has to be a data warehouse filled with purchasing, market and demographic information about consumers who feed 867-5309 into CRM solutions. What does all this data reveal about these conscientious objectors from the “customer personalization” trend? What sort of purchases ARE THEY making? Are they high income, low income? Devoted to fair trade products, or more likely to buy 99c hot dogs from late night convenience stores?
And how many of them owe late fees to their local Blockbuster? (“i just can’t seem to reach this guy!)
“Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?
You give me something I can hold on to.”
I’ll tell you who’s collecting information on Generation X consumers called Jenny: car manufacturers. Christopher Sawyer wrote about Honda and Ford’s attempts to profile the target consumer for their new Civic and Fusion models:
“Six years ago “Jennifer”, a young woman now in her 30s, was Honda’s 20-something target for the 2000-2005 Civic. Now Jennifer is moving up to sporty mid-size cars, though sticking with four doors for practicality. And — even more amazing — she is abandoning Honda for Ford. Now Honda understood what had happen to their beloved Civic, and why so many formerly loyal customers had abandoned Honda for car makers with more exciting wares. One need look no further than the 2006 Honda Civic concept to realize that Honda learned its lessons from the “scientific” approach used to develop the present Civic to know it must trust its gut, and only look to the marketing studies for validation.”(Automotive Design and Production)
One-to-one marketing seems an appealling concept: personalized marketing messages tailored just to my liking! Discounts, personal mailings and special sales just for “members”! Yes – in the right hands.
In the wrong hands, you’ll end up drinking from a firehose of direct mail and telemarketing, all vapidly fed by an uninterested retail clerk.