Big data misses individual consumers

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We’re all taught in marketing 101 about consumer segmentation, but what happens when there are micro segments of consumers within each segment? While there are some large groups of consumers that can be segmented ignoring the individual behaviors of smaller segments can lead to ineffective marketing.

I keep reading stories about Millennial’s and their wants and needs, but frankly, I have found that most of these stories just aren’t true. Here is a perfect example…

A recent story talked about how more people are renting apartments than buying homes. They attributed the trend to the high cost of homes in certain markets, but in talking with Millennials I found that it has more to do with the desire to be more independent. They want to able to pack up and move if they get a great job opportunity and renting gives them that freedom. It seems that within this segment there are several behaviors so would it make sense to just group them all together?

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Big data is everywhere and marketers are drowning in numbers, but can consumer behavior really be defined by numbers ? No. Marketers need to get out of the office and watch consumers shop and they need to talk to retail sales people.

Big data can provide some answers, but big data misses the human touch when it comes to marketing. While sitting in some qualitative research last week the research company we hired said that they are doing less and less research for CPG’s. That really surprised me, but then again too many people think big data has all the answers.

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MBA’s are trying to turn marketing into a science when it’s anything but. Marketing, good marketing, is an art, not a science. Some marketers can watch shoppers and get a good feel for what’s needed while others want to quantify everything with months of meetings and Power Points leading to inaction and lost opportunities.

If it comes down to big data versus talking to and listening to consumers I’ll take the latter. Consumers don’t want to be viewed as a segmen t, they want to be viewed as customers that are important to your brand.

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Time to rethink your marketing and view your marketing communications as a consumer rather than a business person.

Marketing contrarian with over 15 years of developing leading edge and award winning digital marketing initiatives.

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