So many of the tactics used in marketing in this day and age revolve around knowing your customer. “What kind of products do certain customers buy,” “what appeals to certain people,” and “what can win over new customers,” are all crucial questions that marketers seek to answer.
For retail giant Target, they appear to have perfected the art of (fittingly) targeted advertising. Recent news has surfaced of how exactly their tracking is done, as well as details of certain product purchases that indicate a current situation for customers. Based on certain purchasing patterns, Target uses that data to compile specific sets of advertisements to be mailed out to customers, essentially specifying their mailers to 1 to 1 marketing. The catch is that they’re tactful enough with it that the mailers still appear as a traditional 1 to many marketing campaign, but in reality, they’re customer-specific.
While some may feel uneasy at the idea that their purchases are being tracked, what Target is really offering in the bigger picture is a better way to
communicate offers to interested customers. If a young male shopper were to receive a mailer ad with a handful of advertised prices on items for babies and specials on women’s clothing, his interest is likely lost. But if that same shopper receives a mailer loaded with video game deals, popular music on sale and the newest men’s apparel, he’s likely become a willing buyer. In other words, they’re making it easy for the customers.
This all has led to some interesting scenarios, particularly in the case of a father complaining to Target about the ads of baby clothes and cribs being sent to his teenage daughter. Target’s data on her purchases suggested that she was likely pregnant, and Target aimed their mailer accordingly. That pregnancy turned out to be real too, something the father was unaware of at his initial complaint to Target. Regardless, one has to tip their hat to Target for putting in the amount of research they have done in order to identify what shopping patterns indicate what life situations.
At Farstar, we’ve been doing something similar for seven years now in the B2B world. We create buyer profiles using technology and our own custom algorithms to gather data that we eventually pass along to our clients in order to boost the efficiency of all follow-up conversation. Target may have taken things to a higher level, but they’re not alone in the game when it comes to optimizing advertising based on customers’ behavior. That higher level appears to have been what ultimately made Target’s strategy obvious enough for customers to catch on to what they were doing. At Farstar, we’ve managed to keep these same strategies subtle enough to fly under the radar, while still maintaining its effectiveness after years of doing this kind of thing.
For more on Target’s targeted advertising, read an article on the matter from Forbes.com here: http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/818/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/
For a laugh or two, as well as another take on the same story, Stephen Colbert featured it on his Feb. 22 show: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/408981/february-22-2012/the-word—surrender-to-a-buyer-power