Here's a news flash: Google employees love bacon, Mountain Dew, and Doritos, while Microsoft employees are partial to Capri Sun, butter, and Orville Redenbacher popcorn (separately and in combination, one assumes).
How do we know this? Thank data mining firm Rapleaf, which -- for reasons that surpass understanding -- decided to peer into the shopping carts of Google and Microsoft employees and offer up the insights hidden within.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Is Rapleaf getting a fair shake or a bad rap? Don't answer until you read Cringely's earlier report "Online advertisers are selling you out." | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]
Per the Rapleaf blog:
We looked in our database for data about people with an @google.com or an @microsoft.com email address, and we created a sample of approximately 6,000 Google employees and 16,000 Microsoft employees. After anonymizing the data, we worked with data from a loyalty cards aggregator to evaluate the employees' purchase trends at grocery stores. For each company, we looked at the percentage of customers who purchased major grocery store products and compared the percentages side-by-side.
Other fascinating tidbits: Microsofties buy more vitamins, while Googlers load up on the fresh fruits and veggies. Employees in Redmond are more likely to be older and married, with kids. As a result, they're also more likely to have higher household incomes.
The RapLeaf report [PDF] goes on to analyze the reasons for all this (employees who enjoy gourmet meals in the Googleteria are more likely to splurge on snacks; married people with kids tend to buy more Capri Sun) and talks up the wonders of how data mining can personalize your shopping experience -- by, say, spitting out discounts for Doritos if your email address ends in @google.com.
The bigger takeaway, in my humble opinion: If you thought your supermarket loyalty card was only knocking 30 cents off that overpriced carton of yogurt, think again. It's also a window into your soul.