It seems like you can’t go a day without hearing something about big data. Much digital ink has been spilled on all sides of how big data could affect the research industry, from the breathlessly optimistic to the foretelling of the end of the profession.
I am very optimistic.
It’s easy to see why people get so excited about the prospects for big data in marketing. If you believe all of the hype, it is very easy to convince yourself that if you only had enough data, the answers to all possible marketing problems are within your reach. The problem is having enough data is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to generating insight.
What else do you need?
Judgment and strategic thinking.
These happen to be things that people are far better at than computers.
Dr. Michael Wu wrote a great piece in TechCrunch about the big data fallacy. In it, he systematically destroys the notion that a lot of data means a lot of insight. The point he is making is that there is far more data than there is information, and there is far more information than there is insight. Further, he argues that more data and more information don’t necessarily result in more insight.
I think the reason boils down to this:
It is the analyst — not the analysis — that assigns meaning.
That’s because there can’t be any meaning without context. Context requires a broad understanding of how the data fits into the issue and how the issue fits into the world.
The skills needed to make those connections?
Judgment and strategic thinking.
To me, this means marketers need skilled analysts to work with big data to generate the insights that will benefit the business. This critical link in the chain isn’t going to be automated anytime soon. In fact, one of the big worries marketers have is where to find all the data scientists to actually do the work.
It seems to me that there are plenty of people working in research today with all the requisite skills. The research industry just needs to change its mindset from strictly thinking about primary research to thinking about using data, wherever it comes from.
As Tom Anderson has mentioned, and I agree, the act of sifting through volumes of data to understand patterns and identify potentially lucrative groups in the market sounds a lot like segmentation.
Researchers certainly have the skills and the experience to be key players in big data. Whether it is in the data manipulation and analytics or in the ability to connect the dots to create insights from the data, there is opportunity there for anyone who chooses to seize it.
So…which side do you fall on…optimist or pessimist? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Many retailer ads are great at conveying what their brand is about and setting consumer expectations. But oftentimes, this doesn’t carry over to the actual shopper experience. All that investment on a great ad with beautiful visuals– and the best mix of media spend– doesn’t always play out as shoppers hope, in-store.
Here’s some examples of ads I’ve seen recently that sparked my interest to investigate the in-store experience. I went searching for the same excitement, sentiment and most of all, consistent brand promise that I’d seen on TV.
Here’s what I found…
Retailer Example #1: Target
I recall first seeing this ad earlier this year, during award shows. I anxiously awaited the release of the Prabal Gurung collection at Target stores in early February. Given the high fashion designer name, I decided to seek it out at Chicago’s City Target on State Street (I previously mentioned that City Target here).
Wow… what a let down from Target on this one. Here’s what I saw when I finally found the the Prabal Gurung section…
I was disappointed by the lack of in-store promotion around the clothing. It was mixed in with everything else and unless I looked closely, I would not have noticed that it was the Prabal Gurung collection. It did NOT make me feel…Chic, Stylish, Romantic, or Breathtaking. Just underwhelmed.
More importantly, I was not very inclined to buy since it did not seem…well, for lack of a better word…special (like in the TV ad).
…unlike the spectacular celebrity-infused New York launch party – which is what I was hoping to get a hint of at my City Target…
Target really missed the opportunity to infuse some of the launch party ideas, in-store. I realize that it can be investment, but if you live outside of NYC, it was difficult to find and/or distinguish this line from other clothing in the store.
Yet Target does a great job of delivering the experience of “Spring is near” — I’m hopeful as I write this post, ice pellets hitting my window in Chicago — with this fun, lighthearted TV ad…
Spring is definitely all over Target now, especially since Valentine’s Day is over and Easter comes early this year (March 31). Target knows how to hit us at the right time to begin to think of the next season.
Retailer Example #2: Crate & Barrel
This ad from Crate & Barrel first aired in early Fall 2012. — and every season/holiday it’s reprised to touch upon current gathering moments and emotions. This ad — with the renowned Crate & Barrel Helvetica font and a catchy song — makes you want to invite friends over for dinner and toast up S’mores in the fireplace.
And when I went into Crate & Barrel’s retail space, with this party in mind, I immediately saw interesting place settings, cocktail glassware, and other items for hosting a fun get-together.
C&B gets my gold star of approval for carrying their advertising message into the store; effectively providing a consistent shopper experience.
The bottom line is…don’t be confusing…be CONSISTENT. Make sure your brand message translates seamlessly across customer touch points — in-store and out. Today’s busy shopper expects a hassle-free experience — they don’t want to think too much or search too far for their desired merchandise. Make it easy for them and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Can you think of retailers that do (or don’t do) a stellar job of translating their message to the in-store experience? I’d love to hear from you.