Context and Perspective

Richard works for a large online retailer. His company is launching a tablet computer soon, and they want to maximize the effectiveness of their marketing. They have a large number of customers, many of whom have purchased digital devices and other services from the company previously. Richard has noticed that certain types of people are anxious to get new devices as soon as they became available, while other folks seem content to wait to buy their electronic gadgets later. He's wondering what makes some people motivated to buy something as soon as it comes out, while others are less driven to have the product right away.

Richard's employer helps to drive the sales of its new tablet by offering specific products and services for the tablet through its massive website—for example, owners can use the company's website to buy digital magazines, newspapers, books, music, and so forth, often at significant discounts. The company also sells thousands of other types of media, such as traditional printed books and electronics of every kind. Richard believes that by mining the customers' data regarding general consumer behaviors on the website, he'll be able to figure out which customers will buy the new tablet early, which ones will buy next, and which ones will buy later on. He hopes that by predicting when a customer will be ready to buy this new device, he'll be able to time his target marketing to the people most ready to respond to advertisements and promotions.