Synopses & Reviews
One week after the birth of his second daughter, author Erik Larson stepped out of his front door to find a sample package of Luvs diapers, courtesy of Procter & Gamble. How does a company know the most intimate details of family life?
In The Naked Consumer, Larson turns the tables on the snoops and spies: Who are these people who annually record the due dates of 900,000 women in a "Young Family Index," rent each of our names 152 times a year, and make telemarketing pitches to 18,000,000 of us every day? And who are the people who have transformed coupons for our favorite items into tools of espionage? Why do we Americans, who claim to revere privacy so much, allow ourselves to be filmed, taped, and analyzed by private-sector corporations seeking no loftier achievement than to sell us the same old toothpaste?
Just as the advertising industry focused on motivation research in the 1950s, today corporate America relies on mass surveillance to sell its products. As consumer researchers systematically violate our privacy, erode our civil rights, and reinforce class stereotypes, they produce a business culture that shies away from risk and innovation and pays more attention to manipulating our needs and values.
Erik Larson's penetrating study chronicles this wildly obsessive and frighteningly intrusive pursuit of the American buyer: how companies use spies, hidden cameras, even sonar and EEG machines to understand what makes shoppers tick and how, in the process, they've accelerated the blanding of America.
"[An] alarming and compelling expose." Publishers Weekly
"[A] narrative that is both a highly informative research presentation and something of a detective story....[T]hough [Larson] is sometimes strident finding Orwellian portent, for example, in just about every event that happened to occur in 1984 his tone of alarm is borne out by his research." Scott Huler, The New York Times Book Review
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.
Some companies gather and sell personal information to assist businesses in their marketing campaigns. It this American business at its finest, or simply a horrible invasion of our privacy? This shocking book will make readers think twice before writing their next check or going to the grocery store.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-261) and index.