Does it really matter that companies, both online and in real life, profile you based on your purchasing and surfing habits? After all, it means you get ads and offers more targetted to you, and that can only be a good thing, right?
An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager:
“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.
On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
Footnote: Target’s revenues have grown from $44 billion in 2002 to $67 billion in 2010. Company president Gregg Steinhafel has boasted to investors about the company’s “heightened focus on items and categories that appeal to specific guest segments such as mom and baby.”