Analysts at Target collect “terabytes of information” on its shoppers. They have figured out that women who buy certain products — vitamins, unscented lotions, washcloths — might be pregnant and then can use that information to jump-start their marketing campaign.
This can get tricky: One father was upset after receiving coupons for baby products in the mail from Target addressed to his teenage daughter.
“He went in and said, ‘My daughter is 16 years old. Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?’ and the manager apologizes,” Duhigg says. “The manager calls a couple of days later … and the father says, ‘I need to apologize. … I had a conversation with my daughter, and it turns out there’s some things going on in my house that I wasn’t aware of. She’s due in August.’ So Target figured it out before her dad did.”