Do you recall how in The Minority Report, stores were trying to sell Tom Cruise products based on his retina scans?

What would you do if a Retailer knew you were pregnant, and when the due date was before you told your friends and family?

Or they figured out whether you got a bonus or were unemployed without you telling them?

This article in Forbes on Target’s Pregnancy Identifier database is eerily unsettling. Especially the way they created the “random coupons” baby book.

[Pole] ran test after test, analyzing the data, and before long some useful patterns emerged. Lotions, for example. Lots of people buy lotion, but one of Pole’s colleagues noticed that women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.


“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.


On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

This is how BIG DATA works, and this is how Facebook, Google, Twitter are making their billions.

Collecting data, analyzing data to show you better targeted ads, and further sell your data to retailers, advertisers, insurers and governments.