Target, Trust and Thanksgiving

May the Odds be with you on this Holiday! As a consumer, I lost faith in Target. I only go to the Target located in 21 Broad St, Stamford, CT 06901-2309, that too to buy my Starbucks coffee. Don’t get me wrong, like any sensible consumer; I do like a good bargain. But I would avoid buying from Target until the miracle happens – Target taking Assertive actions by instilling proper security measures for its customer data. And I personally don’t think Target is planning on doing it anytime soon. Here is a simple (probably irrelevant) example on why Target is refusing to work on gaining customers trust. Remember: TRUST and CARE goes hand in hand.

On Nov 17th 2014, around 12:55 PM, I was getting my warm cup of Caramel Brule from the Starbucks located inside Target (21 Broad St, Stamford, CT 06901-2309). Whilst I was passing the Parking meter on my way back, I heard the meter gurgling in its electronic voice to a customer, who just inserted her parking ticket,

Your parking fee now is $ 3,883.00, please pay by inserting cash or Credit card” This voice stopped me on my tracks. Then, like any other Good Samaritan, I stopped and took a picture of that unfair parking fee, and then helped the lady to remove her parking ticket from the machine. I see a comical, yet, nervous expression on the customer’s face. I am glad to mention that she successfully pulled her parking ticket back from the cognitively challenged machine without becoming a victim (yet again) by Target!

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Glitch happens, some might say. But for Target, everything should be perfect (almost) considering it (allegedly) “missed” warning signs in Epic Credit Card Data Hack. Target’s responsibility as a corporate citizen is to make its customers feel safe again by being forthcoming about:

  1. What actually went wrong?
  2. What measure are they (management) taking to make sure:
    1. The data is safe
    2. Not to repeat the incident in future
  3. Why it happened?
  4. A small infomercial on how Credit Card Data are being used, and by whom and what purpose?

Cashing in on Customers ignorance will take you only so far. And in the Information age we live in, cashing on customers’ ignorance won’t last long.

Enough about Target, let us talk about the wonderful, merry month we are in and its Specialty: It is November – which means, it is Thanksgiving, followed by DATA GIVING, commonly known as Black Friday. Now, if I am giving you a valuable data about myself, I obviously trust you. I trust that you:

  1. Keep my data SAFE
  2. Use it diligently and with CARE
  3. Use it to understand me MORE, so you can HELP ME better.

Now, even though it is only three points, I know it sounds like a nagging spouse’s task list for most corporations. Well, it shouldn’t be.

Target lost its customers TRUST; but didn’t lose much of its customer base. According to Washington Post, as of February 26th the massive cyber attack has already cost the retailer $17 million. And all Target did immediately was to pacify its customers by offering 10% discount.

Funny, that my data is only worth 10% of whatever your product value is? And where is Target’s crisis management team? Does Target have one?

An article written by Rachel Abrams, Nov 19th, New York Times, states that After several quarters of troubled earnings, Target beat expectations on Wednesday by reporting that its profits had risen in the third quarter, a sign that it is recovering from the fallout of its huge data breach last year.

Seems like Target is back on Track; are its customers? Can customers TRUST Target again? I did not see any information (press release or otherwise) from target stating measures it had put in place to safeguard the customers’ data – and the BLACK FRIDAY is next week!

Your Thoughts?

Do you think Target can survive this Black Friday?

Do you think it is safe for us (customers) to shop in Target again?

Or

Are we playing the Odds?

 

 

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TRUST me… TRUST me NOT….

It has been more than a year since I wrote my blog – UmarketMe. To be candid I had one key priority on my plate: Graduating MBA from University of Connecticut. My graduate work and independent research kept me committed to the task at hand. A lot had happened between my first blog and now: Verizon security breach, Target security breach, Dropbox security breach and many more. You name it; the odds are the company might have suffered a breach.

What went wrong? It used to be FUN! Businesses produced goods and provide services; consumers bought the goods and services by paying the mighty dollar for it. What changed? Businesses still produce goods and services; consumers are still buying the goods and services by SWIPING the mighty card! Swiping the card is much easier than seeing the mighty Benjamin disappear from my wallet. It is truly a good thing. Businesses started to collect data from the consumer swipathon and started to analyze the data in order to better serve its consumers. After all, consumers market the businesses NOT the other way round.

As one can see, we have come a long way since we abbreviated our “world”: www. Businesses were surging and slumping whilst consumers were splurging and saving. During this rollercoaster ride two key things were forgotten:

  1. Data is increasing, so is the security risk.
  2. Human mind is capable of coding as well as hacking.

My initial thought to this Serial Security Breach was:

Businesses need to upgrade its hardware and software, invest in a team to discuss several possible cyber attack that might happen to its company, collide with other Businesses (Bipartisan Business Relationship) to create a security measure that can’t be infiltrated by any hackers and many more thoughts flooded my mind.

Now, do these thoughts have practicability? YES! Are these thoughts easy to implement? YES!

Then why Businesses are not taking any preventive actions to avoid Data breach?

My bet:

  1. Too focused on short-term investment:Too much money for something that might or might not happen.
  2. Playing the Odds:Just because it is happening to all the businesses, doesn’t mean it will happen to my business. After all, nothing had happened to me thus far… What are the Odds?

News Flash! Security Breach happens to anyone who has an online presence. The end.

Businesses often forget the core purpose of its survival – Consumers.

                                                      NO CONSUMERS, NO BUSINESS.

Businesses are built on trust. If consumers can’t trust an Organization, they won’t think twice to dump the business.

Well, that’s no FUN….

INVEST, SECURE AND SERVE

YOU Market ME

It is the 21st century; we are in a digital era! It is not about selling our products anymore. It is all about selling our “true self” to our customers.

It is Business, and it is all about the bottom line, you say?

Think again. First and foremost we are humans. We play the role of a mother, father, businessman/businesswoman, and many more.

Philosophical ranting? No.

The point is: In this fast paced era, we as humans are becoming very isolated from one another. We crave to be cared at a deeper level. We crave for empathy – customers expect the business to understand them at a deeper level.

Let us all imagine for a moment where customers are  holding a sign, that says

“We are not for Sale”

As a business student, this sign will shock me. But, as an aspiring marketing professional the mentioned sign will make me think. How?

Customers define us. The end.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to the new era of Business where we embrace the exponential growth of digital advancement, but we are on the verge of forgetting who is our real bottom line.

In this blog I would choose feed my curiosity in search of not my inner self, but the inner self of our customers. I choose to embark on a journey to visualize the future of marketing.