The Null Device

To catch a consumer

A data-mining technology developed for hunting down criminals, and used to identify backpacker killer Ivan Milat, is now being adapted to identifying consumer preferences by analysing their purchases and media choices:
"We know the people who drink a certain type of coffee will also eat specific types of chocolate bars and eat at particular food chains," said Torque's managing partner, Oliver Rees. "It's not only interesting for marketing those products to specific people but also for how store layouts are designed and how brand alliances should or could develop."

There are 4 comments on "To catch a consumer":

Posted by: Alex http:// Thu Feb 12 11:29:25 2004

I always wanted to know ... is there an opt-out of 'Fly Buys' ? Can you get a 1-5% discount for not playing their raindeer games?

If someone gets drunk and runs someone over in their car, and you've subsidised their fuel purchase by shopping at a supermarket that participates in a discount fuel racket, does it make a sound?

Posted by: acb Thu Feb 12 12:18:43 2004

Various troublemakers in the US (where these things are more common) have periodic loyalty-card swaps; they pool all the cards and then each take a random one. Mind you, if you did this infrequently, each purchaser's signature pattern of places, times and preferences could be inferred from their segment of each card, and this could be used to additionally identify who's swapping cards with whom.

Posted by: gjw Thu Feb 12 23:04:41 2004

I'd like to know what, exactly, they plan to infer from my staple weekly purchases of Omo powder, camembert cheese and kangaroo steak. But I fear them nonetheless... Actually I don't really think I would be a good enough consumer for their purposes - rarely visiting the same food chain twice in a month, and buying most groceries from anonymous italian stalls at the central market... I doubt they'll ever start offering loyalty cards!

Posted by: Renfro http:// Fri Feb 13 12:42:59 2004

They are obviously trying to make exact computerised models of our brains so they can predict what we are going to think before we think of it, then steal our ideas and claim credit for our creativity!