Discounts are Our “Big Brother”

Social media and giving up privacy go hand in hand, it’s something we have to accept — literally, we click the “accept” button without thought when signing up for any kind of social media site. I’ve found myself mindlessly clicking “accept” for just about any online forum, whether that’s a new app, a website that uses cookies, finding out the results of a quiz, or even signing up to use an organizations “free” wifi. The concept is we give up our privacy in order to receive goods and services.

This may seem kind of scary, for anyone who’s read George Orwell’s 1984, Orwell seems like a prophet foretelling modern society’s doom.

It’s simply a fact that in order to receive the information, or data, we want, we have to give up information in return. Organizations wish to personalize experiences as much as possible, whether thats a social media site or some kind of retail (or anything else that manifests itself online). Aguirre, Roggeveen, Grewel, and Wetzels (2016), however, discuss the possibility of this personalization becoming a paradox. People are less inclined to give up privacy for personalization, and if an organization over-does it, populations may disengage entirely (p. 98).

The article sought to find out what “middle ground” is acceptable to consumers, what personalizes an experience enough that they continue to be engaged, but isn’t personalized to the point that the consumer feels violated (Aguirre et al., 2016, p.99). What they found was that we, as consumers, weigh the pros and cons about giving up our privacy. Websites that offer deals or coupons when asking for private information received far more positive engagement than those that did not, however, websites that promised anonymity could charge far more for the same goods (Aguirre et al., 2016, p. 99).

Other factors allowed consumers to feel as if personalization trumped privacy, such as feeling as if previous consumers had also given up the same information, what the website looked like, and whether or not they had been asked for their personal data. Consumers were more likely to release their information if the website didn’t look “professional” (a mildly terrifying piece of information which I have yet to understand), and they felt more at ease when the site alerted them that their time on the page was being tracked with “cookies”, for they felt that at least they weren’t being cheated (Aguirre et al., 2016, p.99-100).

The most prominent factor, however, remains what the consumer was being offered to give up their privacy. Orwell’s “Though Police” have been replaced by discount codes, where all it takes to change a consumers mind about privacy setting is a something “free”. This obviously isn’t the case for everyone, but I find the data alarming, and I’m certainly going to think before I “accept” from now on.

Lydia Fleming

Aguirre, E., Roggeveen, A.L., Grewal, D., Wetzels, M. (2016). The personalization-privacy paradox: implications for new media. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 33(2), 98-110. 10.1108/JCM-06-2015-1458






5 thoughts on “Discounts are Our “Big Brother”

  1. It really is interesting how easy it is to sway consumers into blindly agreeing to give up some of their privacy. Thanks for your post! I’ll definitely think twice before clicking “accept” now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “It’s simply a fact that in order to receive the information, or data, we want, we have to give up information in return. ” I’ve never agreed with a statement more. I don’t think I have ever read or met someone who reads the terms and conditions or anything. Its just something we do and accept. It’s like Facebook or privacy.

    …………………………I’m suddenly craving a chocolate chip cookie.


  3. Were you trying to make a point with 1984, being a “profit” foretelling the modern society’s doom or did you mean “prophet”? I’ve always meant to read that book!


    1. Nice catch with the homonym error, I must have mistyped. Although I do appreciate your belief in my grammatical metaphor skills. It is a fantastic book though!


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