Today is my birthday. If somehow I had forgotten the date due to my advanced age, I would have been reminded by the many emails and postcards sent by retailers and various service providers.
These communications have come my way as a result of my having provided my birth date on a rewards card or site registration form. Most, to my mind, would have been better off not having sent anything. In their attempts to engage me as a result of this piece of personal information, they come off as impersonal and disingenuous. Offering an additional percentage off my purchases on this special day doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies. If they want to do that, give me the same discount leading up to my wife's birthday.
Not all are so bad. Two coffee establishments I sometimes patronize have sent me free drink rewards. While I know the hope is that I will purchase something in addition to the drinks, that choice is up to me. One of the businesses, Starbucks, even gives me a month to redeem my reward.
When I was much younger, the neighborhood corner store where my friends and I went to buy comic books and drink shakes, would offer each of us a free comic on our birthdays. On my eighth birthday, I got a Spiderman issue. It's funny, but I'm pretty sure the couple who ran the store never called any of us guests. But, on our birthdays, they certainly made us feel about as close to a guest as one can in a retail store.
Generally speaking, how effective have retailers been in their efforts to engage consumers through increased personalization?