Folks, Facebook isn’t the first corporation to steal away your privacy. Nope, that honor belongs to someone else, someone else whom I am not discussing tonight. Instead I plan to discuss one of my favorite stores…a store that is stalking you.
I’m looking at you, Target!
Ladies, beware your shopping habits at this retailer, because according to Forbes Magazine, “Target will know that you are pregnant before you do.” That’s right…Target is magical! Forbes Magazine claims that it is science though.
See, Target is like Batman…now wait hear me out…See, the Batman that I read growing up collected data on everyone he met. He learned your habits, your likes, your dislikes, and he basically invented the e-harmony of beating the shit out of you. Now, Target hasn’t taken it quite that far yet, but like Batman, they have been studying you. Every purchase you have made with debit/credit cards has been saved and scrutinized. But they don’t just follow your shopping habits with their chain – no, they buy information about you from anyone willing to talk! They learn EVERYTHING there is to know about you! From your salary to your race to when you lost your virginity! And after a few years of this type of research, they figured something out. They can predict whether or not someone has a bun in the oven.
In 2002, Target hired Andrew Pole, a master statistician, to help find trends in shoppers habits. Andrew started by studying baby registries. He tracked the purchases made by the women who had registered their upcoming bundle of joy. He probably followed them around. Took pictures. Sent unwanted gifts and made awkward attempts of affection. I think he even filmed the birthing process.
All of this surveillance led Andrew to understand women…most specifically pregnant women.
For instance, pregnant women tend to buy more fragrance-free lotions than non-pregnant ones. They also buy more vitamins. Target monitors this very closely, you see. And ladies, if yesterday you bought a jasmine scented lotion, but next week you start buying fragrance-free – you can expect to be courted by the retail giant.
At first, they would send specially made “baby-book advertisements” to the women they felt confident were pregnant. And they didn’t just send this to the expectant mother, they sent it to her family and friends as well. This didn’t go over very well…one man called Target in a fit of rage over his teenage daughter receiving one of these packets through the mail. He accused the chain of “attempting to coerce his daughter into having pre-marital sex and getting pregnant before she even graduated high school.”
The manager of the local store he called apologized profusely…a few days later, the father called the manager again. I imagine that manager took a deep breath when he was told who was calling – bracing himself for the barrage to come! But this time it was the father apologizing , because after talking to his daughter, he learned she was indeed due in August – the exact time-frame Target had mentioned in their specially made baby ad for her! That’s right – Target even knew when she was due!!!
Even though this wasn’t at all creepy, Target decided to change their tactics. They wanted to hide the fact that it was a baby specific advertisement by putting random ads for other items next to breast pumps and bassinet’s. They would put ads for chainsaw’s next to ads for Pampers. Ads for the newest movie release next to ads for strollers.
Wait…Target just sent me a specialized advertisement that is mostly filled with scarves, chains, toy police gear, sleeping masks, ball gags, and other leather products – I wonder what are they trying to say?