Once bought, forever haunted

Not long ago someone told me: “Once, at Christmas 2009, I bought the movie Austin Powers for a friend of mine in the probably most known online shop out there. Since then, this shop recommends Mike Myer films via email and online to me – every single year during Christmas time. What’s up with them? I don’t even like Mike Myers!”.
Yes, this is probably an issue that everyone of us knows quite well. We regularly buy birthday presents for our family and friends. And afterwards online shops “think” that we bought this stuff for ourselves.

But is this really a problem or even a mistake?

1. The customer view
Think about it: every year you have to buy presents for your family’s and friend’s birthdays; Christmas is and will forever be at the same dates and after the age of 30 your circle of friends normally won’t change noteworthy. So it is not really wrong to offer the same kind of products (especially films like in the real world example above) every year at the same special dates. Of course, we as customers are sometimes bored of all the marketing repetitions that we receive per email every day. But honestly most of us have already clicked on such offers because it is very exhausting to search the right presents for the same persons every year, who – of course – own already everything they need. So mostly these kinds of offers help us and only bore sometimes.

2. The online shop view
If you look at the customer view, the perspective of the companies offering these products every year at the same times, is quite clear. There is a customer journey throughout the year, which is quite transparent and does not differ extensively compared to the years before. This fact makes it easy for big online shops to offer the “maybe right” products at the “definitely correct” dates. And this is a huge marketing channel for companies. The wrong offers for “one-time present buyers” should be quite insignificant compared to the big deals a company could make. Also correcting these wrong offers is a big technical challenge and could really confuse customers.

Because we will need (and we will buy) Christmas presents every year, and usually make presents to the same people every year at the same time frames and dates, we will probably also get recommendations of always the same products every year. Better technology won’t change this – and most companies probably also don’t want to change it.

Once bought, forever haunted