Too much of a good thing - or simply knowing your customers better than anyone else?

Writing in the New York Times, Charles Duhigg may have exposed the problem with knowing too much about your customers. Whilst customers love someone to do the thinking for them, I suspect most would value their privacy more. So Target, the giant general merchandise American retailer, has had to subtle-up or de-tune its rather precise customer behavioural measuring equipment ...or certainly be extremely circumspect on how they use it. From their sales data and profiling, Target started sending diaper coupons to the high school daughter of an unknowing father. The then irate father eventually felt he needed to apologise to the store manager when he realised his wholly understandable rants about the store's assumptions were not wrong. But the incident clearly threw-up more problems than insights, when the store deduced the pregancy during the 2nd trimester.

Do please read this excellent article on data gathering and behavioural science. It's fascinating and totally absorbing if you care anything about customers and their habits ....but extreme caution must be excercised otherwise the best and biggest data mining brains on the planet will tiptoe us towards a veritable minefield!