retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "chains such as CVS Health Corp., Walmart Inc. and Walgreens-Boots Alliance, Inc. are collecting data from millions of customers as they sign up for shots, enrolling them in patient systems and having recipients register customer profiles.

"The retailers say they are using the information to promote their stores and services, tailor marketing and keep in touch with consumers. The companies also say the information is critical in streamlining vaccinations and improving record-keeping, while ensuring only qualified people are receiving shots."

The story notes that "the ability to connect digitally and amass data on people who wouldn’t otherwise be customers provides a benefit to companies, which aren’t likely to see a financial windfall from their role in vaccinating the U.S. masses against Covid-19.

"Shots are given at no cost to the public and are covered by the government."

KC's View:

There are some limits, because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Hipaa), to how much information can be shared and utilized.  

But this is very smart on the part of these retailers - if people are coming into the store for the first time, it is sensible to find ways to turn them into regular customers.  They have to be careful not to abuse the access - if people feel their data is being exploited, they'll rebel.  But within reason, judicious and consumer-centric use of this data seems like a smart thing to do.