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Fri June 29 2012 12:54:52

Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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It's been all over the news in the last few days that Mac owners are sometimes charged more than PC owners, the presumption being since they own a more expensive computer they have more money to spend. (Travel website Orbitz sometimes shows more expensive travel offers to customers using Apple computers, who apparently typically spend 30% more than Windows visitors, The Wall Street Journal reported).

And according to this recent article in SmartMoney Magazine, "How Online Retailers Personalize Prices," "it’s common practice for retailers to make offers based on everything from your zip code to the kind of smartphone you’re using.” This, according to Robert M. Weiss of Neal Gerber & Eisenberg, who says the practice is legal so long as the vendor doesn’t change prices based on race, religion or gender.

But while Mac owners may be seething at this mistreatment, some of the information culled by retailers yield benefits for buyers, such as when you happen to live near one of a merchant's warehouses, and they throw in two-day shipping for free.

Or, for example, a detailed "long tail" search by a shopper, such as "size 10 patent leather men’s shoes," is more likely to get that customer a discount by an online site, because the more detailed the search, the more likely you are to buy, and the retailer is willing to give a  little to get that sale.

Other offers that are spiked upwards based on other factors, however, can rankle. An example of this is "if an online retailer knows you’re shopping from Seattle during the rainy season, it may charge more for raincoats in the same way street vendors raise umbrella prices during a downpour."

How do you feel about online retailers customizing offers for you based on personal information like what computer you own or where you live? As an online seller, would you take advantage of such information to offer a certain deal to a potential buyer? Post a comment here!




Comments (4) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?   Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jun 29 13:19:45 2012

I had not heard that Mac owners were being charged *more* than the regular price available to other non-Mac customers. If so, that's outrageous!

My understanding was that Mac owners were being charged the *same* price as everyone else (for identical items)... HOWEVER, the site would automatically *recommend* alternate items or upgrades that were at a higher price-point.

In that regard, I have no issues with this type of ''profiling''. B&M stores and sales-clerks do it all the time when it comes to suggestive-selling and up-selling. Without cheating or lying to your customers, the idea is to get them to spend as much as they're willing to part with.

From my own first-hand experience... and reviewing the Piwik traffic reports for my web site... I can tell you that Mac owners are:

-- more engaged
-- they view more pages
-- they stay on each page longer
-- tend to view ALL product images (alt views, close-ups, etc.)
-- and they spend more!!
-- and they return more often!!

Other interesting observations:

-- Safari users spend the most time browsing and view the most pages
-- Firefox users spend the 2nd longest time browsing and pageviews
-- Internet Explorer users typically view one or two pages, then they're gone.

Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?   Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?

This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Fri Jun 29 21:04:03 2012

Please get your facts straight. In the Orbitz story, Mac users were not ''charged'' more than PC users, they were ''shown more expensive accomodations'' when searching for hotels.

All they had to do was order search by lowest priced hotels. eBay has been doing this for a few years, it's called ''Best Match''

This has absolutely nothing to do with personal data or privacy concerns. Every web browser identifies itself by platform and operating system through the HTTP_USER_AGENT environment variable.

However, let's face it, Mac owners are not exactly known for being thrifty. Anybody who would spend $3500 on a laptop when you can get a better PC laptop for $600 deserves to be targeted for the dummy list.

Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?   Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jun 30 05:48:31 2012

What I DO hate is whenever I have bought something, for days I am bombarded with ads for the same item. I turn these off when I can at specific sites, and via pop ups, but I don't appreciate having merchandise hawked in my face ALL the time. The plastering of ads, especially noisy ones, is like opening a favorite magazine to have 12 subscription cards fall into your lap.

Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?   Creepy or Cool: Offers Based on Your Personal Data?

by: sunworshpr This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 3 13:33:58 2012

Anybody who would spend $3500 on a laptop when you can get a better PC laptop for $600 deserves to be targeted for the dummy list.

@Spartacus:

There is NO such thing as a ''better PC.'' Your jealousy is showing and your comment is offensive at best.  



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