Monday, October 09, 2006

Pinpoint Marketing

I don’t completely mind when Amazon makes suggestions, but I am a little creeped out when they “remember” what I looked at last time. All in all, I’d rather browse around the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge and pick up whatever strikes my eye at the moment.

I don’t particularly want CVS or Stop & Shop to know my buying habits. So I never sign up for their cards, however many great bargains they promise. Instead, I take my chances that the check-out clerk will take pity on me and use their own card so that I can get the 10% off deal.

I really freak out at the idea of RFID tags that will let someone in Atlanta know when I go to the fridge and take out a six-ounce can of Diet Coke. I can envision the future collusion: Atlanta, wi-fi-ing in on the grocery store card in my wallet, alerts me when I’m in the soda aisle: Attention Maureen Rogers: you’re running out of Diet Coke.

So, if I don’t like the idea of having someone sift through a mega-file of everything I’ve bought or thought in the last ten years, why do I find it so amazing when someone tries to sell me something that is way off the mark? Even with all that vaunted pinpoint marketing, I still get an awful lot of it.

A few years ago, I got a fundraising plea for a Hasidic school in Williamsburg, addressed to me as a “Friend of the Bubovicher rebbe”? Well, I’m sure the Bubovicher rebbe is a swell fellow and all that, but I don’t actually know him. And, surely, good database profiling would have knocked someone named “Maureen” out of the box (although nothing’s impossible: maybe there are a bunch of Hasid women named Maureen out there). Belated thanks, by the way, for the plastic placard that says Mazel Tov in Hebrew.

I often get mail from the RNC, which keeps me informed that Democrats are weak, profligate, and value-free. I don’t take it all that personally, but with each new letter, I can’t help but wonder why they haven’t been able to figure out that I am actually a card carrying member of the opposition.

The latest marketing-off-the-mark came when I got an e-mail letting me know that there’s a big Guns ‘n Roses concert coming up. This came courtesy of the mlb (Major League Baseball) list. Is there really a correlation between someone casting All Star ballots on the mlb site and heavy metal – or whatever kind of band Guns ‘n Roses is. Maybe they've figured that, as a Red Sox fan, I'm into head-banging.

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