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Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities
     

Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities

by Erik Larson
 

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After receiving a sudden surge of junk mail directed at new parents—even though his wife at the time was merely pregnant— Erik Larson, the National Bestselling author, set out to explore the lengths companies go to spy on individual consumers.

Posing as a CEO of a fictitious direct-mail corporation, Larson infiltrated companies that gather and sell

Overview

After receiving a sudden surge of junk mail directed at new parents—even though his wife at the time was merely pregnant— Erik Larson, the National Bestselling author, set out to explore the lengths companies go to spy on individual consumers.

Posing as a CEO of a fictitious direct-mail corporation, Larson infiltrated companies that gather and sell personal information to assist businesses in their marketing campaigns. He discovered the systems used to gather personal data, the staggering amount of personal information companies can gather, and the government’s role in helping companies learn about you.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Consumer espionage, practiced on virtually every American, is one of the nation's most powerful industries, contends former Wall Street Journal journalist Larson in this alarming and compelling expose. According to him, Nielsen nightly ratings alone determine a $10 billion share of the total of $238.7 billion spent in 1990 by U.S. companies on all forms of promotion. Instead of concentrating on offering better goods and services, he charges, companies develop invasive marketing and motivation research to manipulate our needs, values and shopping habits.'' Using data from the Census Bureau, postal and telephone services, banks, hospitals, legal deeds, and political and direct mail lists of all kinds, along with human and electronic spies, marketing experts create psychographics of individuals and groups, which reveal intimate, personal details about ethnicity, past and present income, credit, health, family status and ways of life. This information then serves as the indispensable basis for insidious commercial appeals that exploit consumers' fears, vanity and greed. To avoid critical erosion of our civil liberties, Larson contends, we must control information technology through legislation. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Larson, a business journalist, takes a somewhat paranoid look at how market researchers and giant databanks invade our privacy and compile vast amounts of information that could be used against individuals or groups. However, in spite of being studied like bugs, consumers still manage to confound the researchers. While Larson acknowledges that, if marketing campaigns were perfectly aimed, people would receive ads for products that they wanted, and that they might even welcome this attention, the effort to find these customers is viewed as sinister, because of the chance of the wrong people accessing the information. David Duke's candidacy is cited as an example of the danger. Larson also explores and deplores political pollsters' effects on elections. This title might interest both market researchers and the public because of its detailed accounts of ongoing research. It would have appeal in public libraries with business or consumer collections.-- Sue McKimm, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Cleveland

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140233032
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
245,255
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Seattle, Washington
Date of Birth:
January 1, 1954
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Education:
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; M.S., Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1978

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