The case of the mystery baby formula delivery
October 5, 2017 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Is this a case of crossed-analytics or just a coincidence?

My step-sister just got a giant box of promotional new mom items and baby formula delivered to our parents house with her name on it. She is not pregnant, and not even considering it. I am though. Neither of us have lived with our parents since pre-college 10-20 years ago, and I never lived at this house. We do not share a last name. Is this just a strange coincidence or did some weird online analytics somehow confuse us?

Honestly, I would have liked that promotional box of items, and it was from a brand I used a lot with the first pregnancy and was planning to use again, so it wouldn't be strange at all if it had been sent to me. Would love to know if this was an accidental crossing of our profiles in the online world, or if this was just a weird coincidence.

On the lighter side, it did give our parents quite the jolt!
posted by Toddles to Technology (13 answers total)
Could someone be playing a joke on her? Back in high school, we thought it was hi-ho-larious to sign people up for this kind of thing.

posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:36 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]

posted by AugustWest at 9:55 PM on October 5

Any chance the news that your family has another baby on the way got around to your parents' friends or distant family and they mixed up which sister was actually pregnant when addressing a gift?
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:06 PM on October 5

Has she bought something for you recently that would trigger a marketer to add a "pregnancy" tag to her in their database?

Another thought: if you are connected on a social media site (e.g. Facebook), then marketers can purchase data from them. Facebook tracks all sorts of indicators for whether someone might be pregnant, so it's possible she got labelled as likely pregnant by them due to something she was googling, liking, or an ad that she clicked on that was due to her thinking about you.

When a very close friend was having fertility trouble a few years ago and I was still on Facebook, Facebook started showing me ads for fertility clinics, adoption services, etc, and I can only imagine it was because it tracked things I looked up for her, or messages I sent her about her experiences (and later her pregnancy).
posted by lollusc at 10:18 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]

RE: triggering a marketer to add a "pregnancy" tag to her in their database:

How Target figures out you're pregnant from your shopping habits
What's even creepier than Target guessing that you're pregnant?

Did your sister buy unscented lotion and vitamins?
posted by nicebookrack at 12:03 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]

Did your step-sister recently have a medical procedure? Is she still on your parent's insurance? When my mom and sister went through a kidney donation, they both got formula sent to them. This has happened to different women I know. They go in for an ultrasound, or something else, and a few weeks later get baby formula. I think it has more to do with insurance, hospitals, marketing and data then the fact that you are pregnant.
posted by momochan at 2:52 AM on October 6

We mostly paid for stuff in cash and didn’t get any pregnancy stuff until well after the kiddo was born, but my in-laws (who’d bought gifts for us) got a box congratulating them on their new addition. Maybe she bought a gift for you?
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:53 AM on October 6

Is it Similac Strong Moms? The internet is full off random people getting formula samples from them.
posted by whitewall at 6:58 AM on October 6

Do you all share a store card?
posted by k8t at 8:01 AM on October 6

I (a man) deliberately Googled various baby terms despite not having a baby. Within a week there was Similac formula on our doorstop, addressed to my wife. Could be a coincidence, but my money is on the all-seeing eye.
posted by wnissen at 10:34 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]

This is what Big Data is all about - I'm guessing she bought something for you online, or your parents did, or they bought something "baby" for their house when you visit, and her/their account at the store is linked to saved addresses or saved recipients from the person's past purchases. The formula company bought that information.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:55 AM on October 6

Years ago I bought a pregnancy test. I have watched that nonexistent child grow to high school age by special offers, etc tied to the age that child would have been. Over the summer I received info on intensive SAT courses!
This would have been really crappy if it had been a much longer for pregnancy situation rather than a whew!, our kids are half grown and I am too old situation.
posted by readery at 11:25 AM on October 6

Years ago I received a free high-quality air purifier in the mail. Mistakes and weird promotions happen.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:25 PM on October 6

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