The New York Times on Thursday published a really interesting article about the science of habits and how Target used a statistician to predict which shoppers were pregnant (and how far along they were!) to entice them to shop for more items at the store. It’s a long article (adapted from writer Charles Duhigg’s upcoming book “The Power of Habit”) but well worth your time. As the story explains, new parents are a “retailer’s holy grail.” They are forming new shopping habits likely to stick around for a long time. And while the science of this story is so interesting, my favorite part is on page 7 where Duhigg writes how difficult it was to get Target to respond:
“When I sent Target a complete summary of my reporting, the reply was more terse: “Almost all of your statements contain inaccurate information and publishing them would be misleading to the public. We do not intend to address each statement point by point.” The company declined to identify what was inaccurate. They did add, however, that Target “is in compliance with all federal and state laws, including those related to protected health information.”
When I offered to fly to Target’s headquarters to discuss its concerns, a spokeswoman e-mailed that no one would meet me. When I flew out anyway, I was told I was on a list of prohibited visitors. “I’ve been instructed not to give you access and to ask you to leave,” said a very nice security guard named Alex.”
Read the full story here. Some commenters are appalled at the seemingly “creepy” practice while other say it’s great to receive coupons for products they’ll actually use.