13 Jan 12
Can you see the big picture?
by Anna Rzemieniewska, Econometrician
Today's marketers have access to more consumer data than ever. There is a constant flow of data about people and people, people and brands or people and things. The Economist points out, that Tesco alone generates 1.5 billion bytes of customer data a month. What’s the best way to grasp the essence and not to be drawn into the sea of information? Inspired by the article in Warc, I’ve gathered key facts worth keeping in mind when learning to swim in that sea.
From my experience, being exposed to the sea of data makes it harder to engage with it and use it to your advantage. So rather than crunching big datasets into tiny pieces, it is worth learning to spot the patterns which tell big, important stories. This is the way to gain insight allowing making strategic decisions. Don’t get me wrong – precision is still very important and useful when (for example) planning implementation. However, if it’s about the strategy, it is worth to look at the bigger picture and appreciate the patterns in your data.
The presence of the patterns in a market is a strong indication that the market is shaped by social influence rather than independent choice. In other words, we can grasp the purchase decisions that are fundamentally social rather than individual. Patterns help you see the stuff that matters and that’s what the strategy needs to be built on. They won’t give you the complete answer, but will help you build strong and clear strategies.
It’s easy to get carried away with the over-precision and micro-segmentation of the datasets. Even though we have enough granularity to analyse, re-analyse, and analyse some more, this is not always the best solution. The more precisely we can read something, the more we obsess with micro changes in a data line getting more noise than the actual signal.
Patterns, on the other hand allow us to see the communalities between the behaviour in different markets. They show the important things that you need to know to build a strong strategy. So let’s take a step back and see the big picture.