Blog#3 Case in Point “Best Buy Hunts Down Bad Customers”

For my Case in Point I chose to do, “Best Buy Hunts Down Bad Customers”. This Case in Point talks about how Best Buy found out that they had three different kinds of shoppers. They categorized them as the ” “angles” the high spending people, “devils” – savvy, bargain-hunting customers who apply for rebates, return purchases to buy them back as discounted merchandise, and “flippers” the people who buy goods for a profit on eBay. The CEO says “100 million of its 500 million annual customers fall into this category”. Best Buy found out this information from a data mining system that is collected from the products that customers buy and when they buy them. After receiving information that “devils” were hurting their revenue Best Buy took away the online promotions and coupons that would be seen by the “devil” customers. By doing this they were basically trying to lessen the use of coupons and increase their revenue. In this example, data mining helps the companies stay in business and helps them keep making profit. McWilliams stated, “They can wreak enormous economics havoc” talking about devils but with data mining this helps companies weed out the devils. Data Mining might help companies but not always the case for customers. For example, one of the points we talked about in class that had to do with data mining was how Target found out this teen was pregnant from the products the teen was looking up online and products she had purchased. Through data mining Target started to mail her information and product that pregnant people would need. The father having no idea his daughter was pregnant was not very happy with Target because they were sending her information he thought was inappropriate. The father ended up finding out later that his daughter was pregnant and realized why Target was sending his daughter that information.

I think that data mining has its pros and cons. I think for companies it is smart of them to have to keep track of customers like Best Buy did. Help them find out what kind of buyers they have to keep their company going strong. Where for customers it is nice when you have been looking for a certain products and you get information about what other product would be good to purchase. On the other hand, some cons would be in the case of the pregnant teen where she wanted to keep the information to herself but Target gave out information she didn’t want others to see. Also for those customers that are bargain shoppers, they are being discriminated against. Is it ethically fair to not put certain ads on certain consumer’s web browsers just so they will spend more money in stores? The problem is that it could go well for the store or bad. By not giving the consumer available promotions it will be taking away a customer. Or possibly it could work out in their favor by making that customer by the tool for full price.

Personally, I believe it is ethically wrong that Best Buy used data mining in that sort of way. I think it is interesting how through data mining they were able to learn more about their customers. However, ethically it seems that the company is trying to deceive those customers who may not have the means to purchase something without coupons or cheaper rates. It is not fair or just to discriminate against a customer based on the type of shopper they are.

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