[Horace] goes to a drugstore to buy film, which was advertised to be on sale. He finds out at the store that in order to receive the discount, he must apply for a courtesy card, which entails an application requiring home address, work, and marital status.
[Julio] applied for a courtesy card at the drugstore, which entailed an application requiring home address, work, and marital status. Whenever he shops he receives by mail advertisements and coupons for alternatives to the drugs that he usually purchases.
[Evelyn] applied for a courtesy card at the drugstore, which entailed an application requiring home address, work, and marital status. Evelyn used the middle initial “Q” on her application, even though that is not her real middle initial. She now receives catalogs in the mail from businesses that she has never patronized, all with mailing labels that include the middle initial “Q.”
[Rosco] applies to join a local gym. The membership application includes questions about his health, income, and criminal background. In addition, he is required to grant permission for the search of public records and undergo a credit check.
Of course, although one dimension can be defined by example through these vignettes, consumers and different businesses have markedly different preferences about what level of privacy, as indicated by one of these seven vignettes listed from most privacy preserving to least, is acceptable or even should be legal.
One such information-enabled marketing effort to come to the attention of consumers is the use of historical information by the online bookstore Amazon.com to make suggestions to visitors on items that might interest them. When customers log in to the Amazon.com Web site, they are greeted with a series of recommendations on items they might like. These recommendations are based on the purchase history of the customer and the purchase history of other customers who resemble the one logging on. Many people find the recommendations helpful, and Amazon.com finds that it helps their business. Nevertheless, there are some who find this an indication of how much information has been gathered about them and wonder what else this customer database reveals about them.
A similar trend can be seen in bricks-and-mortar retail businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies that use customer loyalty cards. These cards are used to identify customers, allowing the purchases made by those customers to be tracked and aggregated. Some stores use the information to give out discount coupons differentially depending on the interests and history of different customers, which can be thought of as a variation on the recommendations made by the online retail sites. In addition to the accumulation of information that these cards allow, there