Sunday, May 8, 2016

If you get a discount coupon for liquor, does it mean you are an alcoholic?

I was reading an "Ask Slashdot" question about online tracking. Here is one of the comments:

"I work in the micro-targeting business and we love people like you. It is the ones who think they are immune to the work we do that are actually the most susceptible because you'll never see it coming. It hasn't been about in-your-face advertising for at least a decade.

It is about swaying you without you even realizing you are being swayed. Here's an egregious example: One of our clients sells alcohol. They use our data to figure out who has alcoholics in their family and then we send them snail-mail coupons for significant discounts on their products, sometimes even completely free, because we know that alcoholism has genetic and environmental components that family members often share and because 10% of the population accounts for 50% of the industry's profits. [] Those are the people they want to sucker in. And guess what? When the data shows that a heavy drinker has stopped drinking, we send them coupons for freebies too. But we don't just mail them out directly, we have them printed up in their newspaper or their magazine subscription. So it isn't obvious that they've been singled out.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the largest industry on planet earth. Facebook alone is valued at 350 BILLION DOLLARS predicated solely on their ability to manipulate people. It doesn't matter how much mental fortitude you have, you will succumb at some point. My company alone has a 10 million dollar budget for pure research in the field of psychology as it applies to swaying people. As the apocryphal saying goes, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time...""

Now you can't believe everything you read, even on Slashdot :) So let's see what we can find on the Internet.

According to Small Business, "Given a 2012 Gallup poll indicating that most Americans surveyed described themselves as regular drinkers, marketers of beer, wine and liquor have a lot of targets. However, alcohol preferences and consumption habits differ based on a number of factors. Age, gender, geography and leisure habits all influence drinking behavior, and businesses may find their largest target markets are heavily influenced by what alcohol they are trying to sell."

Note, the two perspectives do not contradict one another. Large ocean with lots of fish in it, but some fish have higher value to fishermen. Currently men consume more alcohol than women, but women are drinking more and are "percepted" differently than men.

According to Marketing Today, "In fact, the data show that in comparison with the general population, women are more likely to spend more on adult beverages on-premise than last year (30% of women versus 19% of the general population), and more likely to try new adult beverages, then buy them for at-home consumption (42% of women versus 35% of the general population). 

In addition, women are more likely to take "cues" in deciding what beverages to order. Menu descriptions and samples influence 39% and 32% of women, respectively, whereas the same cues influence 29% and 26% of the general population, respectively."

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