As a kid I never understood why my father would get so angry when I’d sign up for those sweepstakes boxes. Win a trip to Mexico? Sure. Get a free lunch? I’m in. Enter to win a BMW? Here’s all my personal information, call me when I should pick it up. I was a marketer’s dream. I would always notice that mine was one of maybe five other slips in the box. “This car is mine!” I’d think, but there’s a reason why no one opts in to these promotions. These campaigns died out because people don’t want to hand out their personal information; turned off by telemarketers chiming in at dinner time and emails related to all kinds of “enlargement”. There seemed to be no regulation over our content besides the marketing company choosing the highest bidder.
But as our spam email folders filled and junk mail started to out number our real mail, people began fighting back. When the cashier at Williams-Sonoma asked customer Jessica Pineda for her zip code during checkout, assuming it was part of the process, she gave the number and thought nothing else of it. Weeks later Jessica started receiving catalogs mailed to her home address. Fed up, in 2008 she filed a class lawsuit against the retailer asserting an invasion of privacy claim. “On February 11, 2011, the Californian Supreme Court unanimously reversed the lower courts’ decisions by ruling for the plaintiff.” The State of California now places up to a $1,000 penalty fee per incident for illegally collecting and using personal identifiable information (PII). In her post “Loyalty Program’s Privacy Value” from 89degrees, author Jundong Song covers how PII is being handled by companies and different tactics they use.
On a lighter note, not all companies are taking advantage of user’s data. As loyaltylab.com highlights in their post “Loyalty is Complimentary Marketing“, Safeway launched a new site called FoodFlex which takes your shopping history and offers a “series of reporting tools to analyze your purchase history for cholesterol, protein, and more. Best of all, you can then see healthier alternatives to the items you have been purchasing.” This is one of few tools that uses the information the company collects and spins it for the user. Taking this approach, complementary with your marketing plans, is a great way to express the value of data collection to customers and encourage adoption.
Photo Sources: 1. affordablepackagingproducts.com 2. loyaltylab.com