This Is What Happens When You Ignore Your Customers' Habits

Many companies have access to troves of data about their customers' shopping habits—which only makes it more annoying when they ignore it.

Dear wholesale warehouse club that begins with the letter "C,"

I'm a very regular customer of yours and I am disappointed. In this, the era of "big data" and powerful analytics engines, where individual buying patterns can be tracked and ultimately transformed into personalized pitches for products, I haven't heard anything from you about one product you sell that I often buy and which I care a lot about: wine. Especially your discounted wine.

You know all about the buying habits of my wife and I and you should have an extensive archive on us. We've been executive members for 10 to 15 years; we charge everything we buy there to your Amex credit card; we go to your cavernous stores almost every week and our bill is almost never below three figures. Our basement looks like a satellite operation of your warehouses with our 6-month supply of paper towels, the pallet of Ziploc bags, and the barrel of olive oil. We buy a bottle or two of wine most visits and I also stock up on your wine closeouts at another one of your locations in Chicago. I know the "secret" pricing code which indicates closeout (prices ending with .97).

You send email and hard copy ads to us each week, but nothing ever about wine. In fact, let's review the e-ads you sent this past week. Hmm...lots of stuff and probably good prices, but things I've never bought and probably never will. An electric hair remover? Artificial grass? Um, no. A trampoline, merchant credit card processing, a home massage table. I think I'll pass. Accent chairs, a Volvo—seriously? This is targeted marketing? It feels more like a flea market.

Forget all that random stuff. Where are the marked-down cabernets? How about Riedel wine glasses? What new vino selections are you bringing to my store so I can consider picking some up?

Personalized marketing is supposed to be a win-win. The consumer doesn't get annoying and irrelevant ads and the seller doesn't have to engage in a costly spray-and-pray approach to marketing and advertising. So, c'mon—go after that win-win. Yes, there are many concerns voiced about privacy issues and targeted marketing in our data-saturated world, but in this case you're just reviewing my purchasing history within your own data base and speculating that my past purchases just might predict my future purchases. And you would be right.

So, start leveraging your data more effectively. It just might put a smile on both of our faces.

[Image: Flickr user Dave Bleasdale]