Summary of The Aisles Have Eyes

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  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Joseph Turow writes of a father who first learned of his teen-aged daughter’s pregnancy when Target mailed maternity-related sales offers to his home. How could the department store know she was pregnant before her family knew? Turow reports that the US has entered a new world of marketing in which online and brick-and-mortar retailers can collect and analyze unprecedented amounts of personal information about shoppers. An online retailer can track not just your progress through its site, but your jumps to other sites. Real-world stores can do similar things by exploiting smartphone apps, Wi-Fi, cameras and GPS. Their aim is to compile enough data to craft personalized messages for individual consumers; they want to know if a shopper is pregnant or low on shaving cream so they can send ads at opportune times. By combining tracking with data mined from sources like barcode scans or credit card sales, retailers can – for example – make a coupon for chocolates pop up on your phone when you’re standing in the candy aisle trying to resist temptation. Turow’s book is a fascinating, sometimes frightening look at recent advances in market-based surveillance as well as the ways retailers are training customers to accept growing levels of intrusion. getAbstract recommends his report to marketers, retailers, consumers and privacy advocates.

About the Author

Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, is a fellow of the International Communication Association and has won a Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Communication Association.



The New Surveillance

In the early 21st century, traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores realized they had to revamp their business model to survive. Most department stores, supermarkets and other retail institutions had already realized that they couldn’t compete on price alone against Walmart and other discounters. Online retailers such as Amazon posed a new threat by using digital media and tracking to compile a treasure trove of data on their customers.

To compete, retailers had to reproduce e-stores’ tracking and targeting in the real world. They needed to mine their databases to “discriminate” among customers – to identify the most profitable shoppers so they could send personalized advertisements and offers directly to them. Such initiatives required a new level of surveillance and intrusion into the personal lives of customers. But first, stores had to get consumers to feel comfortable with this kind of tracking as well as to accept that giving private information to retailers is a normal part of their shopping.

Equal Customers

Retail marketing wisdom in the second half of the 19th century and throughout the...

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    V. M. 3 years ago
    Advertising is like saying the engine of progress but for the most part advertising is imposing their tastes and spreading the opinions for adolescents pier buy it and you are cooler than anyone in my opinion
  • Avatar
    A. S. 3 years ago
    Good read on the use of digital media and marketing. Does the author suggest alternative routes for the retailers?
    • Avatar
      Hengjia Zhang 2 years ago
      just some personal idea. More and more technologies are applied on figuring out what customers need to help retailers. What if some day customers would start to mentally refused those "mind-reader" promotion then seek for some trusts from retailers?
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    M. E. 3 years ago
    I thought it was interesting to understand the potential data mining in the physical world in addition to online. The length of summary was good as it gave at a high level a demonstration of the variety of ways in which retail companies are tracking us.
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    D. P. 3 years ago
    I use the internet to undertake research and to buy presents for others. I then receive plenty of inaccurate badly targeted marketing. The industry has a long way to go before it gets anywhere near knowing me. I implore google and apple to follow me and learn my every taste and move but still they struggle. One day they will get there but meanwhile it is effective as snake oil.
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    K. N. 3 years ago
    This summary is detail