Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Times have changed. Everything we do is more or less being monitored from the moment we wake up to the moment we sleep.
Your heart rate, dietary preferences, favorite brands, hobbies, friends, the number of steps you take a day, the places you went to, your medical records- it is all tracked.
Now, what does mean for us as individuals?
Technology has made our lives much more convenient than ever before. As someone plagued with a horrible sense of direction, I cannot imagine what my life would be without Google Maps. When I purchase my groceries from my favorite store's app, all my usual selections are already saved- all I have to do is select them all again, check out, and voila! I can also easily track my workouts and daily calorie consumption on different apps, and refer back to any info I need in an instant.
The Downside of "Convenience"
The creepy downside to all of this perceived "convenience" is the fact that your life has become a series of "data" sets, stored who-knows-where. Everything and anything you do is recorded, forever. And that is why when you search for your favorite sneakers on Google, ads for that brand will appear everywhere on your social feeds and email almost instantly- with recommendations for "similar items".
Data is gold for companies. It allows them to evolve products and tailor them to your needs and interests. The closer they get to what you like, the more likely they are to convert you into a customer. At the end of the day, it's all about the money, the profits, the sales and so the cycle continues.
This is the inescapable reality we all live in (unless, of course, you decide to live in a cave and forgo interaction with all humankind and gadgets).
Turning the Tables Around
We have already established that the end goal of using data and targeting is to increase sales and profits.
So how can we, as consumers, use this to our advantage?
We can use our voices to demand that brands make conscious and responsible choices that benefit us all.
Ultimately, we the consumers, are in control.
Brands have to deliver products that meet our expectations, and that align with our values. We have the power to demand change. The things we read about, post about, and discuss are being tracked. The louder the conversations about ethical, compassionate, and responsible practices are, the more likely brands are going to take notice and will have to adapt to remain relevant.
There are clear examples of this across all brands- from F&B outlets increasing their vegan options to clothing brands diversifying models for their campaigns, and so much more.
Your voice does matter and it does make a difference, so use it wisely and responsibly, and together, as consumers, we will make a lasting, positive impact for ourselves, our planet, and future generations.