Tag Archives: technology

Are You Being Manipulated by E-Commerce Sites?

As on-line shoppers we often depend on the reviews, comments, and purchases by other shoppers to help guide our decision-making. We see how many “likes” a product has received, and if it performed according to the promised description. We might even like to score a great deal on a hot trend that others are snapping up. What does Suzy from San Francisco know that I don’t know?

A common message on shopping sites is that “four other people are looking at this offer right now” or “Suzy from San Francisco just saved $202 on her order!” or “You just missed this great deal!” As it turns out, there often is no “Suzy from San Francisco” online scoping out the same deal as you. The messages are often fake; these are an example of something called “dark patterns,” which are online tactics that manipulate users into doing things that might not otherwise do.

These dark patterns directly benefit the company, not the consumer, and can be regarded by many people as fraud. (This happened to me recently when updating a standard software program – I kept clicking “next” without realizing that it was modifying my computer preferences!)

Lest we regard ourselves as lazy, consider that people do not read every word on every page all the time. We pick up on patterns and make assumptions. A “dark pattern” makes it difficult for the user to do something that does not benefit the company (such as cancelling an account). Companies can use color and design to mislead or trick users. A recent study from Princeton University used software to scan more than 10,000 sites. They found that more than 1,200 of the sites used tactics identified as “dark patterns.”

Here are some examples of dark patterns:

  • Sneak into basket – something is added to your basket because you didn’t opt-out
  • Roach motel – trying to get out of something such as a subscription service
  • Price comparison prevention – that makes it hard to compare the price of an item with another item
  • Disguised ads – that appear as content or navigation in order to gain clicks

Consumers need transparency from companies, not tricks to make us buy more.

Which dark pattern have you experienced?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students. Who checks review prior to buying something online?
  2. View video at Dark Patterns: https://www.darkpatterns.org/
  3. What have been the students’ experiences with dark patterns?
  4. Discuss the ethical considerations of marketing.
  5. Are dark patterns legal? Are dark patterns ethical?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select an e-commerce site and review how to set up an account, cancel an account, and more.
  7. How many of the dark patterns can they find?

Source: Valentino-DeVries, J. (24 June 2019). How e-commerce sites manipulate you into buying things you may not want. New York Times.

 

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New Google Glass Enterprise Edition for Business

It’s been a while since Google Glass has been in the headlines. Remember Google Glass? In case you are not familiar with the product, it was pulled from the market in 2015 after complaints about the technology, usefulness, price, and privacy. The original product was focused on consumers as wearable technology to augment and share daily activities. The glasses had a smart heads-up display and camera, allowing users to connect to data and share information and images.

Google Glass was reformatted a few years ago to the ‘Enterprise Edition’ where the focus was on helping workers in a variety of jobs such as manufacturing, medicine, technology, and other areas. This was a departure from the original consumer-based product, and moved Glass into the business-to-business category. The new version of Glass Enterprise Edition 2 sells for $999 (compared to $1,500 for previous version) and has a new processor, improved camera, and other updates for safety and greater battery.

Repositioning is often difficult, and this repositions Glass from the consumer market to organization buying.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the organizational buying process. Who would influence the decision-making?
  2. Show the newest incarnation of the product: https://www.blog.google/products/hardware/glass-enterprise-edition-2/
  3. Show Glass video: https://youtu.be/5IK-zU51MU4
  4. For Glass, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  5. What are key considerations in each step?
  6. Debrief the exercise.

Source: The Verge, Google

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Cool Tech Products from the Consumer Electronics Show

Most students are unaware of it, but the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest and most influential showcases in the United States for introducing innovative products from around the globe. This year, CES exhibited more than 4,500 companies, including manufacturing, transportation, entertainment, robotics, automotive, and more. The show is produced by the Consumer Technology Association which represents the $398 billion U.S. consumer technology industry.

This year, CES was held in Las Vegas, Nev., and hosted 182,000 attendees who viewed products in categories such as 3D printing, gaming, robotics, sports, drones, fitness, health and wellness, retailing, wearables, and a variety of other product groupings. CES regularly announces thousands of new products, including many that we all know and use, such as:

  • High Definition TV
  • Satellite Radio
  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Blu-Ray DVD
  • OCED TV and 3D HDTV
  • Tablets, notebooks
  • Virtual reality

This year’s show provided a lot of great new products and technologies, including foldable phones, scooters, roll-able TV screens, flying cars, robots, and even an elevated walking car. While not all of the products at the event will make it into full production and into our homes and garages, they are nonetheless interesting to consider and think about.

What would you like to see at CES?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of CES show and how innovation fits into it.
  2. View the CES Web site: https://www.ces.tech/
  3. Show a summary video about CES from the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/video/the-best-stuff-we-saw-at-ces-2019/E4A868A0-AEC6-4EFB-8A09-97E51993C57B.html
  4. Additional summary videos can be found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/mHreov2zl1U
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product featured at CES.
  6. Instruct students to research the products online, and define a target market for the product.
  7. Which ones do they think will be winners in the marketplace?

Source:  Pierce, D. & Bindley, K. (8 January 2019). The craziest and coolest technologies that might even matter. Wall Street Journal.

 

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