Thursday, 30 October 2014

Disrupting your loyalty card

Tesco thought they controlled us. The other utilities, banks, public services and superstores, have designed customer service systems primarily with control in mind. They are designed to make us easier to process. 
This post by David Boyle will ring bells if you've ever been showered with a blizzard of loyalty-card-generated, time-limited money-off coupons from a retail giant intent on luring you into a co-dependent relationship, in the hope that you'll then stay together for the sake of 20p off your next sliced loaf.

People rightly resent losing control and and being manipulated, whether by an allegedly benevolent dictatorship of think-tank wonks nudging you "for your own good", or the empty suits at McKinsey advising forward-thinking retailers how to leverage your data in order to monetise you and your social network:
Retailers should use advanced analytics to make offers and decisions that are targeted and localized, as well as delivered in real time. These offers and decisions should be informed by product preferences and influences (for example, discounts to consumers who have “liked” a product on Facebook and have a desirable network of Facebook friends). They should also be customized by location (for instance, coupons that are targeted at regular coffee drinkers of a competing coffee shop a block away from where the consumer happens to be) and shopping occasions (say, an ad for a new bathing suit two weeks before a planned vacation).
It's a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel. And yet the retail oligopolies' clever, data-driven business plans are being "disrupted" by old-fashioned good value and plain dealing. I'll raise a bottle of one of the discount retailers' surprisingly acceptable beers to that.