Brands, (and their managers) continuously devise newer techniques to identify potential buyers and consumers whether they find them in isolation or in clusters. You may have already noticed that if you go to a travel site such Yatra or MakeMyTrip and search for a particular route (such as Chennai Frankfurt), competing sites will try to entice you by making more contextual advertising such as “Cheapest Chennai Frankfurt Tickets” and so on even as you are reading news on some completely unrelated site. Or if you search for a mobile phone, rest assured you will be chased by mobile phone advertisements for the next days and weeks no matter what. This kind of follow me advertising is setup on the premise that this helps trigger an explore or purchase decision. Unfortunately in this, your computer and the browser is a silent accomplice but we will reserve that discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that as we use internet for more and more information, we leave more and more traces of our likings and needs. And that information is exploited by marketers.
The fact of the matter is that while they say the customer is the wisest, she mostly expresses her choice from within the information environment she exists in. That is where the whole question of choice is so imperfect. This information environment is the control boundary that marketers love to play with.
Web search: You will probably check three of four travel sites, but they would know how many days since you started searching on this sector, maybe which other sites you visited as well. That gives them a fair handle to ascertain your state of search – whether you are really desperate to plan this trip or just about exploring. Your online desperation would ruin any potential chances of getting a solid deal.
Email coupon There is no better way of surrendering your online behaviour to a brand than using a discount coupon. They know who you are, and even if you use multiple devices such as a laptop, or a tablet app to make a booking, your behaviour is being tracked. They know you can be pushed to a purchase and so these little lollies would keep coming in your mailbox.
Social Profile: Assuming that in your Facebook profile you say you have lived in Chennai and travelled to Frankfurt. You like few pages pertaining to Frankfurt city, museum and so on and you are set for life.
Email clicks: Mailers are very innocent data capture devices that also provide information. Assuming you see a travel newsletter and click on a resort ad, or just about click a link talking about an African Safari. Take it from me, you are set for some wild safari ads wherever you go.
So what am I saying?
Just as customers we are getting smarter by a factor of x in getting information using digital tools, brands are getting smarter by 10x in surrounding you from all sides. And just as brands are getting smarter by 10x, the buyer is getting smarter by 15x or 18x in no time. But by using digital tools in our quest to look for our needs, we are playing more and more in the hands of brands. In fact, a frightening scenario would emerge if many of us were to step offline searching for information.