How Target Knows When You’re Pregnant

Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your buying patterns with retailers, and many of them are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers. Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address. That number then becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything you've bought and any demographic information Target has collected from you or bought from other sources. Using that, a recent study looked at historical buying data for all the ladies who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past. From that information, researchers say there’s an 87% chance they can tell when a woman is pregnant and approximately when her due date is. That’s when they start sending coupons for baby items to customers. In one case, however, it was like dropping a bomb on the father of a high school girl. Wondering if Target was encouraging his daughter to get pregnant, he contacted the retailer, who promptly apologized, but a few days later, the father had to eat his words. He had a talk with his daughter and discovered that she was, indeed, pregnant. Now, Target has become sneakier about sending the coupons. They now mix in the ads for things they know pregnant women would never buy so the baby ads look random. Evidently, the Target philosophy towards expectant parents is similar to the first date philosophy — even if you've fully stalked the person on Facebook and Google beforehand, pretend like you know less than you do so as not to creep them out. The store's bulls-eye logo may now send a little shiver of fear down the closely-watched spines of some, while others will begin paying with cash.