The Surging U.S. Dollar Is Making It Near Impossible To Afford Anything In Other Countries

Small retailers shop for dry fruits in a wholesale market, in New Delhi, Oct. 10, 2022. A record drop in the rupee -- on top of higher raw material and shipping costs - has made the nuts much costlier for Indian consumers. Manish Swarup—AP

The cost of living in Cairo has soared so much that security guard Mustafa Gamal had to send his wife and year-old daughter to live with his parents in a village 70 miles south of the Egyptian capital to save money. Gamal, 28, stayed behind, working two jobs, sharing an apartment with other young people and eliminating meat from his diet. “The prices of everything have been doubled,” he said. “There was no alternative.”

Around the world, people are sharing Gamal’s pain and frustration. An auto parts dealer in Nairobi, a seller of baby clothes in Istanbul and a wine importer in Manchester, England, have the same complaint: A surging U.S. dollar makes their local currencies weaker, contributing to skyrocketing prices for everyday goods and services. This is compounding financial distress at a time when families are already facing food and energy crunches tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“A strong dollar makes a bad situation worse in the rest of the world,’’ says Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University. Many economists worry that the sharp rise of the dollar is increasing the likelihood of a global recession sometime next year.

The dollar is up 18% this year and last month hit a 20-year high, according to the benchmark ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of key currencies.

The reasons for the dollar’s rise are no mystery. To combat soaring U.S. inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark short-term interest rate five times this year and is signaling more hikes are likely. That has led to higher rates on a wide range of U.S. government and corporate bonds, luring investors and driving up the U.S. currency.

Most other currencies are much weaker by comparison, especially in poor countries. The Indian rupee has dropped nearly 10% this year against the dollar, the Egyptian pound 20%, the Turkish lira an astounding 28%.

Celal Kaleli, 60, sells infant clothing and diaper bags in Istanbul. Because he needs more lira to buy imported zippers and liners priced in dollars, he has to raise prices for the Turkish customers who struggle to pay him in the much-diminished local currency.

“We’re waiting for the new year,” he said. “We’ll look into our finances, and we’ll downsize accordingly. There’s nothing else we can do.”

Rich countries aren’t immune. In Europe, which was already teetering toward recession amid soaring energy prices, one euro is worth less than a $1 for the first time in 20 years, and the British pound has plunged 18% from a year ago. The pound recently flirted with dollar parity after Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, announced huge tax cuts that roiled financial markets and led to the ouster of her Treasury secretary.

Ordinarily, countries could get some benefit from falling currencies because it makes their products cheaper and more competitive overseas. But at the moment, any gain from higher exports is muted because economic growth is sputtering almost everywhere.

A rising dollar is causing pain overseas in a number of ways:

— It makes other countries’ imports more expensive, adding to existing inflationary pressures.

— It squeezes companies, consumers and governments that borrowed in dollars. That’s because more local currency is needed to convert into dollars when making loan payments.

— It forces central banks in other countries to raise interest rates to try and prop up their currencies and keep money from fleeing their borders. But those higher rates also weaken economic growth and drive up unemployment.

Put simply: “The dollar’s appreciation is bad news for the global economy,’’ says Capital Economics’ Ariane Curtis. “It is another reason why we expect the global economy to fall into recession next year.’’

In a gritty neighborhood of Nairobi known for fixing cars and selling auto parts, businesses are struggling and customers unhappy. With the Kenyan shilling down 6% this year, the cost of fuel and imported spare parts is soaring so much that some people are choosing to ditch their cars and take public transportation.

“This has been the worst,” said Michael Gachie, purchasing manager with Shamas Auto Parts. “Customers are complaining a lot.’’

Gyrating currencies have caused economic pain around the world many times before. During the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, for instance, Indonesian companies borrowed heavily in dollars during boom times — then were wiped out when the Indonesian rupiah crashed against the dollar. A few years earlier, a plunging peso delivered similar pain to Mexican businesses and consumers.

The soaring dollar in 2022 is uniquely painful, however. It is adding to global inflationary pressures at a time when prices were already soaring. Disruptions to energy and agriculture markets caused by the Ukraine war magnified supply constraints stemming from the COVID-19 recession and recovery.

In Manila, Raymond Manaog, 29, who drives the colorful Philippine mini-bus known as a jeepney, complains that inflation — and especially the rising price of diesel — is forcing him to work more to get by.

“What we have to do to earn enough for our daily expenses,” he said. “If before we traveled our routes five times, now we do it six times.”

In the Indian capital New Delhi, Ravindra Mehta has thrived for decades as a broker for American almond and pistachio exporters. But a record drop in the rupee — on top of higher raw material and shipping costs — has made the nuts much costlier for Indian consumers.

In August, India imported 400 containers of almonds, down from 1,250 containers a year earlier, Mehta said.“If the consumer is not buying, it affects the entire supply chain, including people like me,’’ he said.

Kingsland Drinks, one of the United Kingdom’s biggest wine bottlers, was already getting squeezed by higher costs for shipping containers, bottles, caps and energy. Now, the rocketing dollar is driving up the price of the wine it buys from vineyards in the United States — and even from Chile and Argentina, which like many countries rely on the dollar for global trade.

Kingsland has offset some of its currency costs by taking out contracts to buy dollars at a fixed price. But at some point, “those hedges run out and you have to reflect the reality of a weaker sterling against the U.S. dollar,” said Ed Baker, the company’s managing director.

Translation: Soon customers will just have to pay more for their wine.

By: Paul Wiseman, Kelvin Chan, Samy Magdy, Ayse Wieting and The Associated Press

Source: The surging U.S. dollar is making it near impossible to afford anything in other countries | Fortune

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Critics by Nick Beams

The surge in the value of the US dollar against other major currencies under the impact of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike is raising concerns about its effect both on the financial system and the global economy.

According to an index compiled by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the dollar has risen 13 percent this year against a basket of currencies. But the movement is even more marked in relation to other major currencies.

So far this year the dollar has risen 17 percent against the pound, sending the British currency to its lowest point since 1985.

The Japanese yen has fallen to its lowest against the dollar in 24 years, amid expectations that its precipitous slide will go further, prompting hints from the government that official intervention may be necessary. The euro is now trading at below parity against the US currency for the first time since its launch in 1999.

Warnings about the continued dollar surge are being sounded in the financial press. Over the weekend the Financial Times (FT) published an editorial comment under the headline “Currency shifts add to global woes.”

It said that in the midst of an energy crisis and the highest inflation in four decades the “global economy is also being rattled by big realignments in exchange rates.” Under conditions of war in the Ukraine, the European energy crisis and concerns over how some emerging markets will manage high oil and food prices, there was a move to seek security in US assets, which are regarded as “the least unsafe option.”

The surging US dollar, which is fueling price hikes in the rest of the world via imported goods, is one of the factors driving interest rate hikes by central banks, particularly in Europe.

For so-called emerging market economies in addition to rising food and energy prices, the rise in the dollar increases the burden of dollar-denominated debt and threatens to spark capital outflows. According to the International Monetary Fund, around 20 emerging markets have debt now trading at “distressed” levels. This proportion can be expected to rise.

The WSJ noted that because the dollar is at the centre of world financial markets its rise can have unforeseen consequences. Investors and policy makers, it said, were being forced to “consider history’s unkind lessons…….to be continued

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Transparency In Crypto Industry ‘Critical’: Ripple CEO

Speaking with “Mornings with Maria” from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Garlinghouse discussed regulation for the industry, noting that he traveled to Davos for the conference to engage with other CEOs and finance ministers from around the world “to talk about how these technologies can actually solve real world problems, and reduce costs and improve efficiency.”Garlinghouse also addressed volatility in the crypto market on Tuesday.

“There’s no question that regulation around crypto is still trying to find solid footing and finding the right posture for the United States,” Garlinghouse said before arguing that “the United States has really been behind other G-20 of markets,” including the U.K., Switzerland and Singapore.

He said that those markets “have led in establishing a framework that works for investors as well as entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the new technologies and building the next generations of Google and Facebook.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
COIN COINBASE GLOBAL INC. 59.48 -6.62 -10.02%
BITQ EXCHANGE TRADED CONCEPTS TRUST BITWISE CRYPTO INNOVATORS E 7.45 -0.57 -7.11%

Along with the stock market, bitcoin has experienced a lot of volatility recently. Two weeks ago, bitcoin plunged to the $25,000 level, its lowest since December 2020, then bounced back over $30,000, according to CoinDesk. As of Tuesday morning, the crypto was trading around the $29,000 level, down from its all-time high of over $68,000 reached in November 2021.

The crypto is down more than 36% year-to-date.“There’s no question there’s been a lot of turbulence in the crypto market,” Garlinghouse said, noting that “if you zoom out, though, over the last two years, you have to remember that bitcoin was at about $8,000 two years ago. Today it’s around $30,000.”

Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of financial technology company Ripple Labs, discussed regulation and volatility in the cryptocurrency markets from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “This is a new market,” he continued. “There’s certainly been a lot of excitement about what’s going on in the market [and] sometimes that excitement gets ahead of the reality.”

“We’ve been focused on how do we use technologies to solve real problems for customers and those are the kind of solutions that will scale regardless of the turbulence and volatility of the market,” he went on to argue.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have had some rough weeks in anticipation of and following the half-point interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. It was the second of several anticipated increases this year as the central bank seeks to combat soaring inflation, which is at a high not seen in four decades.

The expectation now is that the Fed will take aggressive action to try and curb inflation, which remains near 40-year highs, according to the data for April released earlier this month, which has reduced investor appetite to hold assets perceived as higher risk.

Adding to more fears of volatility in the crypto market was the decoupling of the TerraUSD, a stablecoin whose value was tied to $1, the Wall Street Journal reported. The world’s largest stablecoin by market cap, tether, also briefly edged down from its $1 peg.  Garlinghouse pointed out on Tuesday that “stablecoins have been in the news because that was one of the catalysts that really drove the market a couple of weeks ago.”

Stablecoins are digital currencies with values that are pegged to traditional assets, like the dollar, another currency or gold. Its correspondence with the dollar is what, in theory, makes it stable. However, volatility in the crypto market last week challenged that presumption.

Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of financial technology company Ripple Labs, discusses the turbulance in the crypto market from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “I think now more than ever the transparency that companies like Ripple have championed across the crypto industry is critical,” Garlinghouse told host Maria Bartiromo.

“That transparency for tether I think is to really make sure the people participating feel, buy and have access to whatever financial information they need to feel comfortable that it is in fact dollar-backed.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a House committee hearing earlier this month that the sharp drop in crypto markets highlighted the need for additional federal regulation to respond to the wave of speculative investment in the currency whose secrecy is a major part of its attraction. In addition, a top official at the SEC indicated that tighter rules around crypto stablecoins could be drawing closer, Reuters reported.

Source: Transparency in crypto industry ‘critical’: Ripple CEO | Fox Business

More contents:

Working in Retirement Often is More a Dream Than Reality

Many workers are staying on the job longer or plan to before going into their golden years.

More retirees said they retired at ages 66-69, rising from 11% in 2021 to 14% in 2022, according to the latest annual survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research.

And 7 in 10 workers expect to work for pay as a source of their retirement income, and 1 in 5 are counting on it as a major source, according to the EBRI poll. A growing percentage of workers say they will never retire – 15% in 2022, up from 10% in 2021, according to the EBRI survey.

Unfortunately, expectations of working in retirement can backfire. For workers who plan to work in some fashion for pay after they retire, that desire still appears to be more of a nice notion than a reality. Only 27% of retirees have employment income, according to the EBRI poll.

‘Sad commentary that health insurance has to be such a big factor’

That desire to remain employed is backed up by other recent surveys. More than half of workers (57%) plan to work in retirement citing a variety of reasons ranging from the income to keeping their brains alert, or the social connection, according to the most recent study by the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

The specter of soaring medical costs alone is stomach-churning. The average couple age 65 retiring this year and enrolled in Medicare may need approximately $315,000 saved (after tax) to cover healthcare expenses in retirement, according to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate.

That’s what motivated Russ Eanes, an author, to get back in the workforce after retiring five years ago from his job as chief executive at MennoMedia, a book publisher. A year ago, he went back to work at GetSetUp, an interactive website that delivers virtual education to older adults.

The impetus: A steady paycheck and access to a health insurance plan.

“It’s a sad commentary that health insurance has to be such a big factor in these decisions,” Eanes told Yahoo Money.. “I’m on Medicare as of February, but my wife is a year behind, so we have to scramble to figure out how to have her covered for another year. While I was making out okay as a freelancer, it can be feast or famine.”

Older workers are not always ‘proactive’

But getting back to work or staying employed is not always easy, and in some cases, it can be the workers themselves who short-change their ability to stay on the job longer.

“Many 50+ workers are not proactive about taking steps to help ensure they can work as long as they want and need,” Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of nonprofit Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, told Yahoo Money. “Among those employed by for-profit companies, our research showed that only 62 % are focused on staying healthy so they can continue working and just 44% are keeping their job skills up to date.”

Only a small percentage are networking and meeting new people (16%), taking classes to learn new skills (12%), scoping out the employment market and opportunities available (10 %), attending virtual conferences and webinars (9%), or obtaining a new degree, certification, or professional designation (5 %), Collinson said.

Meantime, more than 2 in 5 workers expect a gradual transition to retirement, according to the EBRI survey.

In reality, “only a fraction of companies offer employees the option of a phased retirement,” Collinson said. “Our most recent employer survey finds 27% of employers offer a formal phased retirement program.”

Forced retirements

Even more troubling– nearly half of retirees retired earlier than they planned.

“Back-to-work plans can be upended by unexpected health challenges and caregiving demands,” Nancy Collamer, a retirement coach and author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement,” told Yahoo Money.

The median expected retirement age for workers — age 65 — and the reported retirement age of retirees —age 62, according to the EBRI survey. Two-thirds said their early retirement was for a reason out of their control, such as a health problem or disability, company downsizing or reorganizations, or caregiving for a loved one.

Some of those reasons were amplified by the pandemic.

Since March 2020, 1.1 million more Americans between the ages of 55 and 74 retired earlier than what would have been expected during normal times, according to a recent report from The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. The number of those who retired involuntarily a year after losing a job was 10 times higher than pre-pandemic times, the report found.

‘Beginning to feel the impact of inflation’

This trend may be shifting. As of March 2022, 3.2% of workers who were retired just one year ago are now employed again, according to research by Nick Bunker, the director of economic research at Indeed Hiring Lab.

One caveat: while the EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey was conducted as the inflation rate had already begun its rapid rise, and at that time, the majority of workers and retirees reported being confident that they had enough money to keep up with inflation in retirement, the economic picture is grimmer now.

With the inflation rate at 8.3% in April of 2022, down slightly from 8.5% in March, which was the highest since December of 1981, and the S&P 500 index off its January peak by 16.6%, that exuberance may be fading.

“Some workers are beginning to feel the impact of inflation, and the number is likely to grow,” Copeland said. “How the economy evolves over the next few months is likely to result in workers reconsidering where they stand regarding retirement. If inflation continues at historic rates and the stock market continues falling, more workers will be reevaluating their retirement plans.”

By:

Kerry is a Senior Columnist and Senior Reporter at Yahoo Money. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon

Source: Working in retirement often is more a dream than reality

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More Than 40% Of Companies Say Workers Have Asked For Higher Pay To Offset Inflation. Few Have Revised Salary Budgets

Inflation may be hitting new 40-year highs, but less than a quarter of U.S. organizations say they are revising their salary budgets due to inflation—despite many workers asking for raises or other actions to cope with higher prices, according to a new survey.

Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, surveyed more than 300 U.S. employers in March and found that 45% do not factor inflation into salary budgets. Less than 25% say they are making changes to their salary budgets because of inflation—yet 42% say workers have been asking them to take financial actions to help with rising costs.

Still, the survey found that nearly half of organizations say they will conduct additional salary reviews for either some or all of their employees as a response, a sign some may be growing concerned about losing workers if they don’t take action. A full 77% said dissatisfaction with pay or an offer of higher wages at another firm were the top reason they were seeing turnover among their ranks.

“Organizations are being cautious about setting a practice of paying primarily based on cost of living, as opposed to cost of labor,” Tauseef Rahman, a partner at Mercer, said in an email about the new survey data. He was referring to the way many employers make decisions about compensation, determining what people with certain job titles in specific regions are typically paid.

He’s not surprised by the disconnect between what employees are requesting and what employers have done so far in response. As Rahman says, “the concern is that organizations can create the expectation that pay is entirely based on cost of living, and not based on the cost of labor which has more to do with availability and demand of talent.” One challenge, he says, is that employers “might not have been clear with candidates and employees as to … [how] pay was being set.”

At the same time, Mercer’s survey also finds that 50% of organizations say they’re paying more than market rate due to the challenges they face finding and keeping employees, and 41% say they are implementing some kind of retention bonus.

Meanwhile, 60% of respondents reported seeing an increase in the number of counter-offers candidates are receiving, and about 30% say they are beating or matching counter-offers.

Josh Bersin, a human resources industry analyst, says he’s hearing from companies that inflation is having an impact. “Everyone I talk to is going through this re-evaluation, saying ‘you know what, we’ve got to add more money. We’ve got to reset salaries more often to adjust,’” he says.

“There’s a saturation point—you can’t compete based entirely on wages,” Bersin says. “But we’re at the point right now [of people saying] ‘I will not work for you unless you can pay me more money.’ So there’s this stair-stepping process going on, [where] everybody’s raising their wages a tiny bit at a time.”

“There’s this stair-stepping process going on, [where] everybody’s raising their wages a tiny bit at a time.”

—Josh Bersin, human resources industry analyst

Bersin thinks the Department of Labor’s data may be a little behind what’s happening within employers’ payrolls. Consumer prices rose 7.9% in the 12 months that ended in February, according to data the Labor Department released last week. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, the U.S. employment cost index showed that compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1% for the three-month period ending in December 2021, with wages and salaries increasing 4.5% last year.

While that is a two-decade high, Bersin thinks “wages are probably going up faster than the federal government realizes,” he says. One human resources executive he spoke with recently told him “we’ll issue a job offer on Monday, they’ll accept the job on Thursday … [and] they don’t show up. Over the weekend they got a job for 50 cents more an hour. It’s just that fast.”

Some companies are finding other ways to provide more compensation to people. For instance, Jonathan Johnson, Overstock.com’s CEO, says his company issued stock to a broader group of employees. The company’s research shows it is above the national average on pay in the markets where they compete for talent, Johnson says.

“You can’t spend your equity at the gas station, but it can help you create wealth and it maybe helps you save,” he says. The company also did not increase what employees pay for medical and dental benefit premiums this year.

Rahman says that where companies are offering raises due to inflation, they tend to be “targeted adjustments” that are based on things such as the competitiveness of pay, an individual’s performance, or business needs. Just “like inflation is complex and not a single number for everyone, pay adjustments are similarly complex.”

I am a Senior Editor at Forbes, leading our coverage of the workplace, careers and leadership issues. Before joining Forbes, I wrote for the Washington Post for more than a decade…

Source: More Than 40% Of Companies Say Workers Have Asked For Higher Pay To Offset Inflation. Few Have Revised Salary Budgets.

.

Critics:

By Stephen Miller, CEBS

Employee demands are driving changes in compensation strategy as employers respond to labor shortages and surging inflation, new research shows. Pay data and software firm Payscale’s 2022 Compensation Best Practices Report reveals that 85 percent of organizations are concerned about rising inflation eroding the value of pay increases.

The survey gathered responses from management-level decision-makers at 5,578 organizations, mostly based in North America, from November 2021 to January 2022.

In January 2022, inflation was 7.5 percent higher compared to a year earlier—a 40-year high. The unprecedented jump in inflation rates has 85 percent of organizations worried that planned 2022 pay increases won’t be enough. At the same time, 76 percent of organizations faced labor shortages or difficulty attracting talent in 2021, and 49 percent said that voluntary turnover had increased compared to previous years.

The survey also highlights which benefits have become more common, such as:

  • A 25 percent increase for remote-work options (now being offered by 65 percent of surveyed employers).
  • An 8.3 percent increase in work-from-home stipends (offered by 15 percent).
  • A 7.7 percent increase for flex-time options (offered by 37 percent).
  • A 7 percent increase in mental health or total wellness programs (offered by 66 percent).

In addition, 40 percent of organizations said they were interested in location-based pay strategies with geographic differentials to determine pay for widely distributed workforces.

More contents:

Wages and Salaries Up 5% for Private Industry Workers in 2021, Less than Inflation

Revised 2022 Salary Increase Budgets Head Toward 4%

Turbulence Ahead: Will 2022 Break Compensation Budgets?

Surging Gas Prices Take a Bigger Bite out of Workers’ Wages

DOL Issues Guidance on Prohibited Retaliation Under FLSA and FMLA

Gender Pay Gap Improvement Slowed During the Pandemic

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Big Tech Privacy Moves Spur Companies to Amass Customer Data

 Shoppers browsing at Houston’s Galleria mall on Black Friday. Brandon Bell/Getty Images 

Marketers are staging sweepstakes, quizzes and events to gather people’s personal information and build detailed profiles. New privacy protections put in place by tech giants and governments are threatening the flow of user data that companies rely on to target consumers with online ads.

As a result, companies are taking matters into their own hands. Across nearly every sector, from brewers to fast-food chains to makers of consumer products, marketers are rushing to collect their own information on consumers, seeking to build millions of detailed customer profiles.

Gathering such data has long been a priority, but there is newfound urgency. Until now, most advertisers have depended heavily on data from business partners, including tech giants and ad-technology firms, to determine how to focus their ads. But all of the traditional tactics are under assault.

Apple Inc. rolled out a change on its devices this year that restricts how users can be tracked. Google is planning a similar push for its popular Chrome browser. New privacy laws in California and Europe are adding to the squeeze on data.

So brands are deploying an array of tactics to persuade users to surrender data to the brand itself—loyalty programs, sweepstakes, newsletters, quizzes, polls and QR codes, those pixelated black-and-white squares that have become ubiquitous during the pandemic.

Avocados From Mexico, a nonprofit marketing organization that represents avocado growers and packers, is encouraging people to submit grocery receipts to earn points exchangeable for avocado-themed sportswear. It is also conducting a contest for the chance to win a truck. To enter, consumers scan QR codes on in-store displays and enter their name, birthday, email and phone number.

“We have a limited window to figure this out, and everybody’s scrambling” to do so, said Ivonne Kinser, vice president of marketing for the avocado group. It has managed to capture roughly 50 million device IDs—the numbers associated with mobile devices—and is working to link them to names and email addresses. The group plans to use the customer information for ad targeting and to make its ads more relevant to its customers.

Building detailed profiles of customers can be costly, since it requires sophisticated software and data science expertise. “We can do a little bit at a time, but it will take years,” Ms. Kinser said. Consumer packaged-goods companies, in particular, will likely struggle to get meaningful quantities of data, since many don’t sell directly to their customers.

No matter how successful brands are in these efforts, they will have a minuscule amount of user data compared with giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon.com Inc. Marketers will still spend huge sums to advertise on those platforms for the foreseeable future. But by having their own robust databases, companies could make their online ad campaigns less costly and more effective.

Miller High Life ran an online contest this summer to give away a branded patio set. The lucky winner got a bar, stools and neon signs. The company’s prize was the personal details of almost 40,000 people who signed up, including emails, birthdays and phone numbers. The reason it asks for birthdays is to validate ages, since it’s an alcohol brand.

Molson Coors Beverage Co., Miller’s parent company, said as more people opt out of being tracked by apps, having more customer data can help keep its ad costs from rising when it buys digital ads across social media channels and from online publishers using automated ad-buying systems.

Molson has conducted more than 300 data-collection efforts this year, including sweepstakes and contests at bars around the country. Many customers signing up in the contests agree to let the brewer store their information and use it for marketing purposes.

“You could think it’s a bad thing, like, we’re trying to access people’s information, but people actually have no problem sharing that information because they’re getting a benefit out of it as well,” said Sofia Colucci, global vice president of marketing for the Miller family of brands.

The Milwaukee-based brewer currently has more than a million customer profiles and says it is hoping to increase that to at least 13 million by 2025. Apple’s new privacy policy, introduced in April, requires apps to ask users if they want to be tracked. According to Flurry, a mobile-app analytics provider, U.S. users opt into tracking only about 18% of the times they encounter the Apple privacy prompt.

The upshot is that major apps, including Facebook, will have less data over time to help brands target ads on their platforms. Apple declined to comment. Reaching desirable audiences on Facebook is already getting more expensive for e-commerce brands. The company, whose parent is now known as Meta Platforms Inc., said Apple’s change hurt its sales growth in the most recent quarter. Meta said it is working on technology to mitigate the issues.

Buying and targeting online ads has long been helped by cookies, tiny files stored in a browser that carry information about a person’s online behavior. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., has said that by late 2023 it plans to pull the plug on third-party cookies within Chrome, in the interest of user privacy.

Google recently tested a new form of ad targeting that would let marketers direct their ads at large cohorts, such as people interested in travel. In some cases, Google will let marketers use their own customer data to target individuals on Google properties such as YouTube—another move that makes it important for companies to collect their own data.

Developing strong relationships with customers, always critical for marketers, “becomes even more vital in a privacy-first world,” David Temkin, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust, said in a written statement.

California’s Consumer Privacy Act and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation have both made it more difficult for ad-tech firms and data brokers to collect information that brands can use, helping put the onus on companies to gather data themselves.

Companies aren’t after just a few personal details. Many aim to log most of the interactions they have with customers, to flesh out what is called a “golden record.” Such a high-quality customer record might include dozens, even hundreds, of data points, including the store locations people visit, the items they typically buy, how much they spend and what they do on the company’s website.

This kind of information doesn’t just help with online-ad targeting but also lets brands personalize other parts of their marketing, from the offers they send people to which products are displayed to customers online.

PepsiCo Inc., which began to get more serious about data collection several years ago, already has roughly 75 million customer records and is looking to double that in two years. The data pile has helped the snack and beverage giant save tens of millions of dollars, said Shyam Venugopal, senior vice president of global media and commercial capabilities.

Buying ads on platforms such as Facebook and Snap Inc. is more expensive if marketers use those companies’ data, several marketing executives said. In North America, most of PepsiCo’s online ad targeting now uses its own customer data, so the costs are lower, according to Mr. Venugopal. Its campaigns are also more effective at reaching the right audiences, he said.

Partly to expand its cache of data, PepsiCo has launched an online store for its Mountain Dew Game Fuel brand aimed at gamers. About 35,000 people registered in the first six months and provided some personal information, Mr. Venugopal said.

Companies in retail, travel and hospitality are well positioned to harvest data because they deal directly with consumers. Many such companies have long invested in loyalty programs that offer perks such as fare discounts or hotel-room upgrades, and have already built customer databases for personalizing marketing.

Dining chain Chili’s Grill & Bar has about nine million active loyalty members, and its records contain about 50 different bits of information, including how many times a person ordered certain foods such as burgers, fajitas, ribs or a kids meal, the company said. Chili’s also has some emails, phone numbers and purchase history for 50 million customers who aren’t active loyalty members, which it can use for ad targeting.

In an example of how the data help to tailor messages, ads sent to someone who frequently orders appetizers might say, “Come in for a free app,” said Michael Breed, senior vice president of marketing at Chili’s, which is owned by Brinker International Inc. He credits the chain’s stash of customer data for helping avoid major fallout from the policy change Apple made.

Some retailers that saw a surge in online sales early in the pandemic supercharged their data collection. “It allowed companies in a very natural way to know a lot more about you,” said Chris Chapo, former vice president of advanced analytics for Amperity, a marketing technology firm.

In 2020, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. added 8.5 million new loyalty-program members, or athletes, as it calls them. The company has more than 20 million loyalty members.

Dick’s loyalty-member profiles can include up to 325 data points and customer traits. These include the purchases members make, whether they have children, what draws their attention on the website, how much they have spent with Dick’s over 12 months and what is their “lifetime value”—an estimate of how much they will eventually spend with the company.

Molson began ratcheting up its efforts in reaction to the European privacy laws. A pivotal moment came in 2019, when Brad Feinberg, vice president of media and consumer engagement for North America, paid a visit to a bar in Madison, Wis., where a field marketing manager was hosting a contest. Patrons put their names in a fish bowl for the chance to win two tickets to a football game.

Mr. Feinberg asked the marketing manager what he did with the bowl of names after the contest. “I throw them in the garbage,” the manager replied, according to Mr. Feinberg.

He realized how much data Molson was failing to capture, given hundreds of such events it held weekly. He eventually persuaded the company to invest in data collection and set data goals for each of its 80 brands. Molson said its customer-records collection has helped it save more than $300,000 this year on data fees when buying online ads.

By: Suzanne Vranica

Source: Big Tech Privacy Moves Spur Companies to Amass Customer Data – WSJ

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