Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The usefulness of data collection

Every company seems to want your data these days - gender, date of birth, postcode, what you buy, what you like, who you hang with, how often you do all this. Yet what do they do with it?

Seemingly, very little.

Tell me, why did Sainsbury's think it was a good idea to send me a personalised email promoting nappies and baby goods?

sainsbury nappies

I've shopped at Sainsbury's, offline, for over 20 years. And online, I've shopped with them a handful of times in the last 2 or 3 years I reckon.

So tell me, why would I want to stock up on baby food, accessories, wipes or toiletries?

I have never bought nappies in my life - not even for my nieces when they were born.

I am single.

I have no children. [Well not if you don't count my involvement with my local brownie pack in Tooting Bec. And they're not babies anyway.]

My shopping habits haven't changed. I still don't buy meat or cigarettes. I still don't buy baked beans or marmite. And I still don't buy Johnson's baby lotion or Pamper's.

Have they made an assumption because I've bought baby wipes a few times that I have a baby - even though I've bought them for use at a festival and I've never bought any other baby products? It's a tenuous link at best and anyway, I usually buy my baby wipes at Superdrug or Somerfield.

Or are they being super-clever... and they've worked out that a couple of my facebook pals have had babies recently?? I somehow doubt they're following me to that degree, and they certainly shouldn't be if I haven't given them permission.

If it's not going to be useful or used, why bother collecting the data at all?

1 comment:

  1. They collect out of some hoarding instinct perhaps?

    They know how to store the data now, and they know over time they'll get better at mining and analysing it, and until that day they're happy to make limited use of it to learn what works...

    Maybe they are testing new algorithms designed eg. to hit the demographics most likely to have had a child recently who haven't used their online shopping much recently, in the hope that some of them have actually had babies and have just chosen to buy the baby goods elsewhere, and with a good offer they can be lured back to Sainsburies for all their shopping?


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