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Quid Pro Quo: What Is the Value of Your Data?

Data on customers’ preferences and choices, as well as information related to their personal profile, play a significant role in business because companies plan their production and sales according to these details. The examples of retailers for which the collection of consumer-related data is critical are Walmart and Target because they use this information for marketing and advertising campaigns (Hays, 2004; Hill, 2012). Thus, consumers’ data are collected almost in each store and organization where certain services are delivered, and this situation can be regarded as a security issue for individuals.

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Such companies as Walmart and Target gather consumer data with the help of storing the information related to customers’ debit and credit cards and driver’s license numbers. As a result, the databases of buyers are formed, and these files can include customers’ private and financial data, addresses, the information regarding individuals’ past purchases and preferences (Hays, 2004; Hill, 2012). It is important to note that all these details are used by marketers in these organizations for developing and spreading promotion campaigns, emailing propositions, and using targeted advertisements.

The problem is that the collection of data directly influences consumer privacy because retailers receive access to data that is not related to purchases and can be considered private. If this information is not secured effectively or companies use the services of the third party to operate their databases, there is a risk of misusing consumers’ financial and personal data (“The value of your personal data,” n.d.). In order to guarantee that consumer data are secured and cannot be utilized by unauthorized users of organizations’ networks and systems, it is necessary to pay much attention to data management (Brown, DeHayes, Slater, Martin, & Perkins, 2011). Thus, the impact of collecting different types of data on the privacy of consumers is critical.

For example, a consumer’s data are collected and stored each time he or she buys something in a store and pays for a purchase with the help of a card. The information related to the date of purchasing a certain product becomes linked to a customer’s profile in the store system. Furthermore, a consumer can provide an organization with additional details when filling in surveys, answering questions, and using discounts (Brown et al., 2011; Hays, 2004; Hill, 2012).

The statistical analysis of these collected data allows such leaders in retailing as Walmart and Target, along with other organizations, to send targeted advertisements to buyers who provided their email, address, or phone number (Brown et al., 2011; Shankar, 2019). The analysis of personal data indicates what purchases were made during a certain period, and algorithms help in determining patterns and preferences to develop appropriate advertisements and booklets.

From this perspective, every time a person does the shopping and provides salespersons with private data and credit cards to pay for a purchase, it is necessary to remember that all these data are collected. In most cases, this information will be used for marketing purposes to attract potential consumers’ attention to goods and make them purchase something. However, in other cases, private data can be accessed and used by criminals and other offenders. That is why retailers and other organizations that collect customer data should inform consumers about this aspect and concentrate on guaranteeing security and protection of customer-related information.


Brown, C. V., DeHayes, D. W., Slater, J., Martin, W. E., & Perkins, W. C. (2011). Managing information technology (7th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

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Hays, C. L. (2004). What Wal-Mart knows about customers’ habits. The New York Times. Web.

Hill, K. (2012). How Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did. Forbes. Web.

Shankar, V. (2019). Big data and analytics in retailing. NIM Marketing Intelligence Review, 11(1), 36-40.

The value of your personal data [Video file]. (n.d.). Web.

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