Consumer Mining Searches

Eleanor D. Baines

Employment, education and surfing for goods and services are a few of the many ways people rely on the internet. Yet, more than a few who search the web, do not trust it to make purchases. In spite of this, there are still numerous consumers who at some point have or will make an on-line purchase.

Endeavouring to stimulate sales and remain profitable, ebusinesses strategize to adjust to negative customer reactions and to predict consumer's on-line behavior. To implement these marketing practices, they need to understand their customers likes and dislikes. How do they obtain such data? Some will employ a data mining company that specializes in opinion and sentiments mining. For example, the mining programmer will write a program that will search for a whole host of words such as "a waste of money" "don't buy", words that express opinions and words like "love it" "great" "bad", words that express sentiments. The business then uses the program to secretly search for consumer opinions and sentiments in documents, customer reviews etc. on forums, blogs and social media websites.*

Several businesses overprice a product at launch and then lower the price when there is negative feedback. Some on-line businesses also collect their customer's previous internet history to target pricing in future purchases.

Consumer mining programs are also used to combat malicious acts. An example of this is Amazon who recently discovered that a product brand maker paid people to write several positive customer reviews on their website. Amazon then had the fake customer reviews removed.

Even so, there is growing concern about secret searches involving web page visits and on-line shopping behavior as these collections frequently contain the confidential or embarrassing information of consumers.

With the absence of standardized internet laws, those with the financial resources such as reputable businesses, scammers or criminal enterprises, can conduct mining searches and access vulnerable personal information. If one province, state or country passes legislation to combat privacy violations, internet privacy laws may be lacking in another province, state or country. It is this kind of fracturing in internet law that has produced ethical concerns in secret consumer mining,** a dilemma that continues to deter many consumers from making purchases over the web.

Footnotes:

* read more on Consumer mining see: https://books.google.ca/bookshl=en&lr=&id=6Mh50Uaq6AIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=b.+liu,+web+data+mining&ots=NwsYJIGjlh&sig=9DbSuRKhtAb2RHPTFh2mbWF7oo#v=onepage&q=b.%20liu%2C%20web%20data%20mining&f=false

** read more about ethics and consumer mining see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-k-clemons/internet-targeted-ads_b_2712586.html

References

Chen, Y., & Xie, J. (2008). Online Consumer Review: Word-of-Mouth as a New Element of Marketing Communication Mix. Management Science, 54(3), 477-491. Web. Google Scholar, Web. October 15, 2015

Liu, B. (2007). Web Data Mining, web. Google scholar, web. October 16, 2015

Kolodny, L. (2015). Trustpilot raises $73.5M for customer reviews of online businesses. VentureWire, web. blogs.wsj.com, web. October 17, 2015

Market Place Tech, Can you really trust online customer reviews? John Moe,     http://www.marketplace.org/people/john-moe, web. Marketplace.org, web. September 9, 2015

Online Profiling and Invasion of Privacy: The Myth of Anonymization, Eric K. Clemons, web Hoffington Post, web. November 18, 2015

Justgrimes, Data (Scrabble), web. Flicker.com, web. November 20, 2015