Thursday, May 7, 2009

What goes around...

I am a major procrastinator when it comes to unimportant tasks and I take the liberty of varying the definition of unimportant from time to time to suit my convenience. Half way through the week last evening, I felt compelled to pick up the mail on my way up. My little one always finds it amusing to see me back home with a giant laptop (I swear it weighs more than a corpse) on one shoulder, a heavy purse that carries my "ingredients for life" on another shoulder, a lunch bag in one hand, usually a snack or cup of chai that I picked up on the way in another hand, keys in my mouth and occasionally a bunch of mail as I try to balance it all, tripping or frequently dropping items.

It takes another day or so to look through the mail. But the destructive approach that the little thing has taken to at the tender age of one, she wasted no time in tossing all the mails in different directions. As I was gathering it all, one flier caught my eye. It was bright red and postcard sized in glossy finish with a Mc Donald's symbol and a picture of an inviting cup of one of the luxury coffee drinks they have introduced in the recent past. I turned it around for no reason whatsoever and was a taken a little aback by what it said in bold "Taste Ki Baat Hain". A marketing message in Hindi for someone living in the US, just because I am an Indian! I knew right away, what goes around comes around.

Without getting into any proprietary details, I will share what I have shared at many a conferences. I work in Analytics and one aspect of my job, in two words, is to profile customers. Any time a new customer buys something from us, we go buy demographics on this person. Everything imaginable from age, gender, income, property value, marital status, presence/number/gender of children and so many more attributes. I carry out detailed analysis with complicated algorithms using modeling tools on this person and flag him as a ripe target for x out of the y upcoming events. Sure enough, when those x events arrive, our new guy gets bombarded with everything that is apparently relevant to his life and interests.

Thousands of companies do this everyday. I always wondered if people wondered how we knew so much about them. Somewhere a desi husband with a furious face and aggravated tone must have demanded to know from his wife what all information she had foolishly shared when he let her buy that ticket for 'dancing with the stars'. An innocent "kuch nahi jee" must not have sounded convincing as he was getting calls to buy tickets for Dora for his 5 year old Munni and for Soccer for his 9 year old Munna.

It is spooky to an extent the public information that is easily available for free for most of us. A quick search on SwitchBoard will get you all past and current addresses with phone numbers and even ‘related to’s of anyone in the US. Then for a mere sum of $19.95 you get prompted to buy a complete background report for that person. Talk about unnecessary information overload.

Great going Mc Donald’s. I've profiled millions of people and today is my turn to feel vulnerable. Thanks for subtly introducing the empathy factor in your marketing.




Photo credit: sliceoflemon.com

1 comment:

jus me... said...

lol McD seems to be going all out to make some money!!!