Minority Report-Style Marketing by Warby Parker

Last weekend, I was walking around Berkeley with my partner, when she asked if we could pop into the Warby Parker store to look at glasses. I said sure. I mostly stood in a corner looking at my phone while she tried on some frames. Then we left.

Later that evening, I received this email:

I was shocked to see this. How did Warby Parker know I was there? And was this form of tracking legal?

I have never been in a Warby Parker retail store before. I certainly didn’t explicitly give any identifying information. I’m sure I’ve been on their website before, but I have never signed up for their newsletter, nor created an account. I know there are ways to surmise your email address via the web by cross-referencing cookies with opt-in marketing data. I also know that it’s possible for physical stores to passively track your mobile phone. So I can guess how this all might have happened technically. But I’m surprised that a well-known brand like Warby Parker is engaging in such sketchy practices.

I poked around the Internet to see if I could find other documented instances of this at Warby Parker or any other retail store, but I couldn’t really find anything. If you know of anything like this, I’d love to hear more.

2 replies to “Minority Report-Style Marketing by Warby Parker”

  1. My guess-you and your partner and are associated in the database of things and that they have searched or signed up for something related to a static IP you have at home.

    Did your partner get a similar ad?

    1. She didn’t.

      The bigger question for me is how they’re allowed to pull identifying information from our cell phones (i.e. a MAC address, which they could then associate with cookies and eventually an email address). That seems questionable legally, although just because it seems that way doesn’t mean it is.

Leave a Reply