How Data Science Figured out a Teen Girl was Pregnant Before her Father Did?
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption Behaviour / Pattern with the retailers. Many Retailers in this Data Driven World Study these patterns in detail to find out what you like, what you need and which coupons are likely to make you happy.
Target Statistician Pole ran test after test, analysing the Data, 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. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc.
As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.
An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager: “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 immediately checks his mailing list which contained advertisements relating to maternity clothing and nursery pictures, The manager apologised and then called a few days later to apologise 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.”
“If we send someone a catalogue and say, ‘Congratulations on your first child!’ and they’ve never told us they’re pregnant, that’s going to make some people uncomfortable,” Pole said.
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Kashmir Hill, 2012