MIS2101 Section 702 – Amy Lavin – Spring 2014

How supermarkets get your data – and what they do with it

This article describes how supermarkets monitor customer’s club cards to advertise to its customers through analytics.  Even though the article is British, we can all relate to how the supermarkets we shop at use our buying history to advertise to us.  I believe that there is a positive and a negative side to providing large corporations with our buying habits.  Yes we may be getting coupons in the mail to save money, but where will the line be drawn to protect our privacy.

Questions to comment on…

#1.)  Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?

#2.)  Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?

#3.)  Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/jun/08/supermarkets-get-your-data

15 Responses to How supermarkets get your data – and what they do with it

  • If you sign a contract with a credit card company like VISA or MasterCard you should have read all of the contract. Then there should be no issues as to whether they have the right to browse your data or not. It should be assumed by know that your credit card companies and businesses that you shop at are going to use your information to keep track of your purchases, history and other data. I would definitely not be offended if a supermarket suggested healthier options. It is a great marketing technique for them to use and if I don’t want their suggestions I will just ignore them. I think the topic of if this data analysis is ethical is way beyond control or discussion. This type of data mining and analysis is so broad and in-depth that most Americans have no idea how much of their personal day to day actions and purchases are monitored by these data driven companies. It is just becoming a part of our culture and is something that people are going to need to adapt to.

  • I do not believe that businesses should be allowed browse your debit card if you are unaware that they are able to do so. If these companies believed that browsing people’s debit cards was ethical, they would be upfront and transparent about it. Instead, company executives continually say that it is what the entire industry does. I believe that this process is a breach of privacy regardless of whether or not the entire industry does it.

    I would not be offended if a super market suggested healthier foods for me to purchase. I believe it is actually beneficial for our country if supermarkets began advertising healthier foods. America’s obesity rate is at an all time high and being suggested to eat healthier should not be frowned upon.

    I do not believe it is ethical to buy data of consumers that cannot possibly know where their information will end up. The customers most likely did not know that their information was being recorded in the first place and cannot possibly know who will buy it. If this was ethical, it would be much more publicized. Instead, companies try to hide it and then when defending themselves, just state that it is what all the companies do.

  • 1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?
    I don’t agree with this at all. I understand tracking your purchases if you have a loyality card then you are giving the store your information. I do not like that they can track from our credit cards. I understand that the info is out there and not really private but I think it needs to be more advertised that you are automatically opted in.

    2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    I personally would not be offended because I love new foods and healthy alternatives. I think some people might not realize that is suggestions are correlated to their shopping habits and just assume the store is trying to promote a specific item. But I do think that it might offend some people. Especially those struggling with body issues you don’t need a store telling you how bad of an eater you are.
    3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    From a business aspect I think that makes a lot of sense. If you tend to shop closer to your home a closer location would be more convenient for you. But I do think it is a little creepy to think about how stores have so much information and know when and where you buy everything. I don’t think it is much of an ethical issue because we are the ones allowing the information to be out there.

  • Someone is tracking everything someone is doing at all times. Right now, I am on the internet at 3:45 in the morning and someone somewhere knows exactly where I am and what I am doing. It;s kind of scary but that’s where we are at this point. If, we as a society, were not benefiting from it somehow (i.e. getting the catalina coupons at checkout) we would stand up and try to get laws to prevent it. But, when it comes down to these types of situations where companies are tracking everything we do so they can “market” to us some other way, the consumer “wins” by getting a dollar coupon on their next purchase of coffee creamer. End rant.

    No. companies should not be able to browse my debit/credit cards but I also know that when I use these cards, I am being tracked by someone.

    If a supermarket made healthy suggestions for me, I would either use it or throw it out depending on my mood. But, like Michelle said, I don’t think people realize that they are being tracked and told to eat healthier. I think they assume that the company is trying to pitch them some new item.

    Supermarkets should not have the right to browse your credit/debit history to make decisions about where to open new stores or anything for that matter.

  • No, I do not think supermarket chains should have the right to browse consumer debit card information just to “perform data analysis”. Consumers seem to be opted in without knowing that they have a choice to opt out.

    I would not be offended if a supermarket assumed I was unhealthy and suggested healthier products because of my shopping history. I actually believe it is a good marketing strategy because it broadens consumer shopping by getting them to purchase other products. This is business and you can’t take it personal.

    Do I believe it is unethical for supermarkets to monitor consumer spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data as a basis for deciding on new locations? Yes and No. Yes, if the consumer is unaware, no if they are aware. As I mentioned, the consumer should have a choice to volunteer their information. They should only have access to the credit and debit purchases at their supermarket only and no other stores.

  • #1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?
    The supermarkets are probably doing the same thing as online retailers. I think it just seems obtrusive because you would expect it from an online retailer like Amazon.
    #2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    I did think that was offensive. I do try to eat healthy but it does seem that you get the message from every direction and to add your supermarket to the mix would be annoying.
    #3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    I don’t like the idea of being monitored everywhere I go. This is something that will have to be brought to people’s attentions to get legislation to stop it. As of now, the information seems open to everyone so I don’t blame them for taking it.

  • #1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”? No, they should not. People have to be aware of the “performed data analyses.
    #2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    If you are buying unhealthy food at a supermarket, it means they are selling unhealthy food. Thus, they are making a profit by selling unhealthy food. I do not think that the supermarket chains are concerned about obesity in America at all. It is just a marketing strategy.
    #3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    I think that it is unethical. Also, supermarkets should not have that much power over people’s private information.

  • Interesting article and I am glad you used this. Not everyone is aware that this is why loyalty cards are used, why stores collect your email addresses, etc… Do you guys ever opt out of loyalty cards? I don’t!

  • If I did not know that I was opted in to the credit card “perform data analyses” then I should probably pay more attention to my credit card agreement to see what else is going on. It’s not something I would voluntarily opt in to but I’m also not going to freak out over it. I would not be offended if a supermarket suggested healthier products. Honestly I probably would not assume that it’s because they view my purchases as unhealthy, I would think it was a random coupon or suggestion. I do think it’s over-the-top for markets to monitor outside spending to decide on new store locations. Unethical? I’m not sure, but definitely too much. Stores should decide on new locations based on demand and target market, no need to stalk consumers’ spending habits for that.

  • #1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”? I don’t think they should be able to see every purchase because some could be extremely private purchases. This is not even dealing with their area of expertise per say. I hope in the future we will have reform to change this so they can only see so much.
    #2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history? I would not be offended because someone has to say it. Heart disease is plaguing this nation something needs to be done
    #3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations? I think its completely unethical to monitor outside of their store buys. Your whole life is essentially monitored and tracked for relevant data. I think that someone needs to make reform for this.

  • 1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?
    No, they shouldn’t have a right to browse to my debit card information for the purpose of marketing without my knowledge or without my consent.
    #2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    No, I wouldn’t be offended, because it is to my advantage and it has a positive side.
    #3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    No, it’s not ethical to obtain my spending habit from outside source and use it to their advantage.

  • I never opt-out of getting a loyalty card! I heart coupons too much. That said, I’m really thinking about getting multiple cards for the various places as the article suggested. I’d really like to see what impact, if any, it would have on the types of coupons I get.
    What strikes me as interesting is that we (consumers) don’t mind companies using our purchase history if we are getting something we deem valuable. For instance, I love the book recommendations I get from Amazon, but I hate the ads (behavioral targeting) that follow me around the internet when I’ve been shopping or did a search for a particular item.

  • 1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?
    If the card holder didn’t “opt out” they are automatically “opted in” I have no problem with it as long as my personal information is not used, just my shopping habits. In return I get coupons and offers for items that I routinely purchase.
    2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    Yes. I would be offended. I shop at various supermarkets. I shop the sales. So to assume that I am unhealthily because I purchased the potato chips & salsa on sale, or the Bryers ice cream is very offensive and I would probably stop shopping at that supermarket.
    3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    Yes, in my opinion it is unethical to monitor my spending habits outside of their business. I am not loyal to any store. Whoever has the best sale is where I spend my money. So to use consumers spending habits to determine whether to build a new store may not be as advantageous as the company might think.

  • #1.) Should supermarket chains have the right to browse your debit card if you did not know you were opted in to the Visa or MasterCard “perform data analyses”?
    I believe that this is somewhat an invasion of privacy. However, at the same time when accepting a credit card agreement I believe that this information should be disclosed in a manner that is apparent. You shouldn’t have to browse the fine print to know that your personal spending habits will be used for data analyses.
    #2.) Would you be offended if a supermarket assumed you were unhealthy and suggested healthier products or recipes because of your shopping history?
    I wouldn’t be offended only because I enjoy trying new things and at the same time might be turned onto a product I would of otherwise overlooked. At the same time to gather such information from spending habits is still a little uneasy for myself.
    #3.) Is it ethical for supermarkets to monitor your spending outside of their stores to gain aggregated data to decide on new store locations?
    No, it is one thing to suggest products based on your spending habits. When they begin to attempt to triangulate your spending that is where I would draw the line.

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