Friday, May 19, 2017

How Major Retailers Are Using Big Data

How 4 Major Retailers are Using Big Data, explores emerging trends in customer data analysis. Major retailers used to collect data through loyalty programs, now they're using big data to go beyond understanding purchasing habits and predicting when a customer is ready for another purchase. Major retailers are using predictive analytics to determine demand before it even happens.

The article uses four companies as case studies - Costco, Target, Walgreens and Red Roof Inn. As we discussed in class, Target surprised a teen's family by sending her baby-related coupons after it determined she was pregnant based on her search and purchasing habits. Pantene/Walgreens partnered with The Weather Channel to pinpoint high humidity days and target women that need anti-frizz products on the go. Similarly, Red Roof Inn analyzes weather patterns to predict flight delays or cancellations and target guests who might need a hotel room near an airport. Costco was able to pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak in 2010, and recently a listeria outbreak in one California company's stone fruits.

After reading about each retailer's strategy, I understand this is not a black and white issue. While Costco helped the CDC to prevent a major outbreak, Target accidentally compromised a teen's privacy. Red Roof Inn and Pantene boosted sales and beat their competitors to consumers in particular weather-related events, which neither positively or negatively impacted society. On the one hand, this data analysis can be used for the greater good, and in other instances it's an aggressive, borderline creepy marketing method that most consumers can live without. Overall, there needs to be stricter guidelines for how our data is used against us to avoid retailers overstepping boundaries.

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