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Big Brother + Santa Claus = A Big Data Christmas
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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With the biggest shopping time of the year currently underway, how consumers find information and how marketers push information to consumers are quickly becoming topics of general market conversation.

Big Data, or the information that marketers and businesses gather based on voluntary (and involuntary) information consumers provide, has been a hot topic in AdLand for some time now. Recently, Capitol Hill's FTC wanted to take a closer look at what kind of information is being gathered, and what kind of business decisions are being made based on the information. 

And now, with Black Friday securely under our belts, Small Business Saturday (advocated by American Express) safely behind us, and Cyber Monday revving its engine, the limelight moves to the people who make the deal known — the advertisers.

ABC News ran an AP article that centered around the consumer tracking our colleagues have been engaging in, and how consumers can take advantage of the ways marketers are trying to connect.

For example, if consumers enter stores like Target — stores that have their own mobile apps — consumers can lock down in-store discounts. If the store doesn't have its own mobile app, but is partnering with apps like Shopkick, like Macy's, JCPenney, and Best Buy, consumers can access the app and get free songs, discounts, and other goodies.

Consumer tracking can't be that bad, right?

Then there are some stores that are going to the extreme — tracking consumer movement and eye direction using heat sensors and body movement to gather what consumers are looking at, and determining why certain things are selling and why certain items are not selling.

That's not bad either, but it is an activity that consumers are not actively "opting-in," so to speak. Unless agreeing to shop at the store could be implied as opting in — an interesting discussion that will happen sooner than later.

So what are the key points? 
  • Consumers can get great deals, goodies, and discounts because of consumer tracking
  • Consumers, do not be näive — whether you shop online or offline, you are being tracked. Take advantage of it, or just deal with it
  • The best decision consumers can make is when they look at all their options. Use the information and deals as an opportunity to get the best deal. Don't take the "first" deal.
  • Though not contradictory, studies suggest that one's first decision for a product is usually the best. Just think about it. 
With all that being said, enjoy your bargain hunting! We marketers are only here to help.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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