Using Big Data to Make Sense of Consumers

Word Cloud "Big Data"In the past, marketers have gathered information about specific target groups through market research, conversations with customers and focus groups.  These methods of gathering data have given marketers useful demographic information to apply to their briefs.  As technology continues to improve, though, we need to learn how to move beyond demographics alone.  The amount of information about consumers has grown exponentially over the past few years, giving marketers a more in depth look at their potential customers’ purchase habits, buying process, etc.  With all this data out there, how can businesses use it to their fullest potential?

Research in the past took a lot of time, effort and money.  Anymore, the amount of data online is growing because of ubiquitous computing.  Mobile devices, software logs, microphones, wireless networks, cameras, etc. are constantly gathering more information.  We call this phenomenon “Big Data.”  I call this a phenomenon because 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past 2 years.  And there’s so much out there that companies like Dell, Microsoft, HP and IBM are investing billions of dollars in data management and analysis.

Big Data is defined as an infinite sea of products, books, maps, conversations, references, opinions, trends, videos, ads and surveys, which can be structured or unstructured, and is so large that it’s difficult to process using traditional database and software technologies.  Once more companies work to categorize this data, campaigns will be created based on in-depth insights.  This will help businesses develop closer relationships with customers, and give insight on the customer’s path to purchase.

Once this information starts to fall into categories for businesses to utilize, we’ll be able to optimize our marketing spending.  From here, we can use last year’s data to predict this year’s business.  We can use data to empower our creative process, and gain competitive advantage.  This trend is all about turning online data into insights, in order to drive and grow business.  Remember though, not all data is good or even useful.  Not only should you think about how the consumers’ mind works, but why this thought process matters.