WSJ, Big Brother, and Fashion Nation
Big brother is always watching. Whether his presence is as obvious and egregious as Facebook’s recent sale of 100 million users’ personal details, or as simple as having all of our credit card transactions recorded and stored–it’s apparent that everything ever is being packaged and sold, often without the owner’s awareness. Take yesterday’s WSJ article published in their style section about America’s shopping patterns – I learned a lot about how my credit and debit card information is being used to track the luxury spending market and the nation’s fiscal recovery. Which is cool and all, except kind of creepy. For instance, one would think that Detroit would not be so high on the list of luxury spending but:
Detroit led the list, with growth of 18% in the first quarter of 2010 from the year-earlier quarter. Lo and behold, Ford stock is up, too, suggesting that Detroit’s local investors are feeling more optimistic than they were when auto executives were driving hybrids down to Washington to beg for bailouts.
I also learned that:
[B]anks have nearly as much information about our purchasing habits. “We know where the customers live and we can track their behavior back to where they live,” says Ed Jay, senior vice president of American Express’s Business Insights unit, which mines its credit-card data for consumer trends and sells reports to clients. American Express says it doesn’t provide data on individual consumers.
Some of the data confirm regional stereotypes. Southerners bought more white, green, and pink than other regions’ residents, for instance, according to data from private-sale site Hautelook.com, which caters to young, urban professional women. Now I know, too, why I feel like such a loner wearing brown in Los Angeles, where black, white and gray are preferred.
Now I don’t care that American Express has sold my credit card history to Joe Shmoe so that they could confirm that residents on the Upper East Side buy more Jimmy Choos than their Upper West Side constituents. But, you know, it is a little nosy of them.