One of the premiere trends in marketing intelligence lately is Big Data. Always starting with capital letters, we find Big Data in every publication, on every conference agenda, and on every marketing researcher’s radar screen. But sorting through all the Big Data noise is difficult. According to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office, “the amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus.”
A quick Google search for “Big Data” returns nearly 800M results. Starting with Wikipedia, we learn that “Big data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying and information privacy.”
Indeed, those are the challenges of working with big data. But an even greater challenge is what do we do with it to drive better decision-making for better business results? As one of our clients recently said:
“How do I use all of the research and “Big Data” we have now to help make more informed decisions for my brand, to launch new products, and get more people to purchase. We have data on all of these customers who have used rebates, coupons, filled out forms, stood up on social: how do we target them and get them into the purchase funnel to actual purchase?”
MGI and McKinsey identified three ways that Big Data will transform marketing:
- Big Data can make information transparent and more usable. In the retail arena, this might lead to a better customer experience across channels if all points in the customer experience have consistent inventory information available.
- Greater customer segmentation can lead to more precisely tailored products or services, increasing customer satisfaction, sales, and loyalty.
- Big Data can improve the development of the next generation of products and services.
But the discussion over Big Data rages: is it the only information you need for marketing decision making? Or just a way to find incremental advances and improvements?
In his new book, Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends, global brand expert Martin Lindstrom argues that Big Data is unable to lead to breakthrough insights for marketers. Big Data is focused on numbers and analytics. Breakthrough insights are based on emotions, he argues. Big Data will never be able to tell us anything about love, devotion, coolness, or any of the other emotions that have propelled brands and products into global best-sellers.
Without a doubt, Big Data can create marketing efficiencies. Indeed, Big Data is invaluable in optimizing the customer experience, especially across online and brick-and-mortar channels. But Big Data alone will never deliver breakthrough insight about your customers.
Big Data is a tool, and an important one, but one of many that marketers must use to monitor continually, understand and motivate their target customers. By using different approaches to collect and evaluate data – of all sizes – marketers can uncover the important revelations about customers that lead to innovative and exciting new products, compelling marketing communications and productive strategies.
Register with Clear Seas Research today to learn more about our Big Data capabilities!