Published on: June 1, 2010Interesting piece in the New York Times about how some internet companies have found a way to alleviate consumer concerns about privacy issues. There’s nothing stealthy about their data collection methods - they simply offer consumers deals, bargains or even products in exchange for their information.
According to the story, “The budgeting Web site Mint.com, for example, displays discount offers from cable companies or banks to users who reveal their personal financial data, including bank and credit card information. The clothing retailer Bluefly could send offers for sunglasses to consumers who disclose that they just bought a swimsuit. And location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla ask users to volunteer their location in return for rewards like discounts on Pepsi drinks or Starbucks coffee.
“These early efforts are predicated on a shift in the relationship between consumer and company. Influenced by consumers’ willingness to trade data online, the sites are pushing to see how much information people will turn over.”
- KC's View:
- It seems to me that a lot of the concerns about privacy being expressed in the marketplace come as a result of company greed - a lot of people see data, they know that online consumer data is a vastly underutilized asset, and they get dollar signs in their eyes.
The phrase that they ought to be keeping in mind is “permission marketing” - that if they ask for permission from consumers to use their data, they offer an inducement for shoppers to give that permission, and then are both discreet and relevant in their use of the data, they can transform the relationship with the shopper into something far more meaningful.
For example, I’ve given Amazon permission to send me emails based on my shopping habits, and I find that with few exceptions, the emails are relevant to my interests even if I’m not in a shopping mode. So I am not offended. Frequently, I buy something I had no intention of buying. And the relationship with Amazon deepens and widens.
That’s the ideal model. It ought not be specifically about making money, but about forging tangible connections.