I hate shopping. When I have to do it, my goal is to make it as quick as possible and that usually means buying what I have always bought at the same store where I bought it before. What frustrates me is when that item seems to be no longer being produced and I have to then try and find a replacement.
I have noticed that this happens more often than I would like and I put it down to bad luck. But it turns out that it may be more than that. According to Virginia Postrel it may be that I have been identified using ‘big data’ (generated using credit card and store loyalty cards that track purchases) as a harbinger of failure, in that my purchasing an item is a sign that the item is going to be a flop and the manufacturers are more likely to yank it.
[Researchers Eric Anderson, Song Lin, Duncan Simester, and Catherine Tucker] found that strong early sales — the traditional indicator of product success — in fact didn’t matter as much as who the early buyers were. And one startling finding was the emergence of an identifiable segment of customers more prone to buying new products destined to survive less than three years, as well as unpopular “very niche” existing products.
“Because these guys are so consistent in behavior, if you’re selling to a lot of them you’re really in trouble,” said Anderson, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in an interview.
This made me think that I must be one of those negative indicators who, when manufacturers get wind of the fact that I buy their product say, “Uh-oh, we should dump it because this loser likes it.”
The demographics of the people who are negative indicators are interesting.
The larger data set offers more information about who the harbingers of failure are: wealthier, more highly educated, with larger families than other customers. These factors, Anderson suggests, make it easier for people to take chances on new items, including unpopular ones.
While I kind of fit the demographic profile of being wealthier and more educated than average, I run counter to their expectations since once I like a product I buy the same old things over and over again. I even order the same food whenever I eat out. I am the very model of a loyal shopper. The data miners may need to refine their models because as it stands, my very loyalty is a reason why the products I buy are more likely to be discontinued.