Evelien schrijver

Privacy is hot! The rules are getting stricter, the rumours of huge fines are getting wilder, and consumers are demanding more rigorously that their personal privacy is respected.

The discussion surrounding privacy often sticks to the legalities. The question that we should really be asking though, is: Who can we approach with our message (and without asking) within the boundaries of the law?

Is this really the right question? Data is collected and combined in all kinds of ways. The retailer knows every detail of its customers’ purchasing behaviour. This is valuable information, which isn’t always dealt with as carefully as it should be. Data is great, the technology behind extracting this data is often even greater, but what really matters is what you do with that data! How creative? How smart? How much effort has gone into finding out more about the customers? And then there’s still the matter of privacy.

Converting the data into opportunities is often handled somewhat awkwardly. Remember Target’s epic fail, which went viral recently? The data team at Target has so much insight into consumer buying behaviour that it can even recognise the early stages of pregnancy. That’s pretty handy information, because now you can send targeted offers. And this is sure to make the happy mother-to-be even happier. Or is it? What if you yourself don’t even know you’re pregnant, or you’re a young teen and don’t have the nerve to tell your father you’re having a baby? The father of the teenager this happened to was definitely “not amused”.


Legally speaking, Target had every right to send these offers to the girl. But this example goes to show that there are more ways to cross the lines of privacy than in the judicial sense. It also shows that the power of data isn’t about the advanced algorithms, but is mainly about striking the right chords with the consumer.

Cherish the data! Use a pair of 3D-glasses whenever you look at data. Choose wisely and make sure the content is on target. Customers who give you a lot of revenue are great customers. But is a customer who spent 500 euros on one shopping spree two years ago worth more than a customer who, in the past year, has bought from your store 8 times for a total of 200 euros? Should they all be getting the same message?

Where is the line between service and stalking? When is a message perceived as service, a nice surprise and a personal experience? And when does it become harassment or irritating, resulting in a negative brand experience?

These are all questions that, in my opinion, are far more relevant than the question whether a message meets the legal requirements. I’d like to see more discussion on the effective use of data by marketers. How do you avoid a breach of privacy? The law is a very useful tool in determining this, but, if we’re totally honest, the customers’ perception is really what plays the lead role.

To sum it up, it’s obvious that marketers should always respect the privacy legislation, and that it should also be integrated into the company’s strategy. But what’s actually important is who is telling you he or she wants to receive your message and how you can make sure it stays that way!

B8ta: always in the test phase · Kega
B8ta: always in the test phase · Kega
2 April, 2018

B8TA: ALWAYS IN THE TEST PHASE The American company b8ta has introduced an innovative retail model: retail as a service....