The closest grocery store to my just-past-downtown-but-is-it-really-midtown apartment is the Air Miles-accepting Metro. With that being said, the iconic blue card of this reward program has a permanent home inside my chunky black and grey wallet. He seems to like sharing a slot of his fellow loyalty card friends: the funky bright pink Menchies card and the sophisticated black and sexy red of Sephora.
This little blue air plane logo’ed card does more than just attract attention to the signs throughout the store with proclaims of addition Air Miles. This loyalty program is able to collect data of the user for the purpose of market research. With the collected data profiles are made of the cardholder to be used by affiliated companies or suppliers. Loyalty programs like Air Miles are worth an enormous amount of money for all the data they are able to collect and track.
I’ve never thought much about my regular usage of my parents’ little blue card. But sitting in a market research class made me feel really guilty about the data I have been providing the overhead program. Yes, even though the data collection process is a bit Big Brother-y (apparently the majority of my network outside of commerce are clueless to the fact their Air Miles is a bit of a tracking device) I feel guilty that I am somewhat skewing the profiles of some almost 60 year old Asians.
Somewhere down the line some firm probably thinks some almost-60 year old Asians are health food nuts with a high utility for Greek yogurt, green grapes, avocados, frozen fruit, and an expensive Metro habit amidst downtown Toronto (many kilometers from their actual listed address). The profile assembled in the data base is also one with a high preference for cheap vodka and Canadian whiskey. My parents don’t drink. And, I highly doubt my parents have consumed any of the listed grocery items in their lives willingly.
As a consumer I could really care less about the false information I am feeding the system. But as a student embarking on her own market research project I am feeling quite guilty even though the card I am using is only one among the many in circulation and is probably statistically irrelevant.
As someone working on her own market research project I am finally realizing the necessity of truthful answers and data. As well as the need for individuals to partake in the research and contribute data. For the first time today I answered a research study on my phone. A few months ago I would have hung up on the researcher but now that I’m on the other side, trying to gather responses to amass the data, I understand the true need to partake.
I’m thinking from the other side.