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October 1, 2015

If I have to give out my e-mail address one more time to some random cashier, I might burst into flames in a spectacular display of consumer angst. I’m tired of companies trying to upsell (when pushy salesmen try to get me to buy a more expensive product than I need) and get personal information from me in an extremely awkward and painful process. I use “aggressive salesmanship” as an everyday term to describe the annoying tactics certain businesses use to get data and money all in the name of marketing. Whether obvious or not, I’m beginning to see them everywhere, and it’s driving me crazy.  

Most subtly, companies use aggressive salesmanship in the “I would like to receive e-mail updates” boxes that come with most terms and conditions contracts I mindlessly click accept on. That doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not being confronted by a person in this situation, just a box that may be slightly hidden as I scroll down. I’m looking into the warm and comforting glow of a computer screen. I’m not getting a death-stare from the dark, lifeless eyes of some blonde 20-something girl behind the cash register who just wants my e-mail so she can follow corporate orders and get on with her life. Avoiding human interaction through technology can be a lot less awkward and intimidating at times. I’m not at all opposed to human interaction, I just don’t like being basically interrogated while I’m in the middle of handing over my money to some stranger.  

In other words, why would companies want their customers to feel awkward and confrontated at the cash register? Or even potentially give a customer a bad first experience at their store? The first time I went to American Eagle, I walked out with a points card I will never use and an entire folder just for their spam e-mails. I’ve never been back since. American Eagle then later shut down 150 stores after a 10 percent decrease in sales in 2014, according to Forbes, which I’d like to think is some sort of capitalist justice.

Unfortunately, stores just want your personal information for marketing purposes. With social media and the ever-expanding online market on the rise, aggressive salesmanship gives customers a reason to go to a different store or Amazon. Marketing data could be collected through social media surveys or through website traffic based on recent purchases and unique visitors. Reinventing how stores collect marketing data could change the consumer’s overall view of that brand or company. After all, hardly anyone would willingly go to a store and buy something if they know they’ll have an uncomfortable experience at the cash register. Make the consumer feel like they’re in control, make capitalism fun again.


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