Data helps marketers move beyond general stereotypes

September 10, 2013 by Erin Haselkorn

On some level, collecting data and analyzing it to find meaningful conclusions has always been part of how marketers go about connecting with consumers. Their strategies have improved dramatically over time, though.

Perhaps in a previous era, marketing executives were only able to make sweeping generalizations about large swathes of the population. But, as marketers have gathered more data on individual consumers, they’ve found ways to fine-tune their searches. They’re no longer messaging to groups in vague terms.

Smart Data Collective recently examined the marketing world’s transition away from broad stereotyping toward better targeted forms of data mining.

Josh Brown, a member of the marketing team at business and IT consulting company Iconic Mind, argues that this era of overgeneralization is coming to an end. We now have the capability to zoom in on the specific customer.

“Big data is how successful companies are building more detailed models of consumer behavior,” Brown wrote. “Instead of relying on the traditional demographic models that marketers used when we were operating in a mass consumption environment and had nothing better, big data capitalizes on developing market trends to allow businesses to become far more specific when segmenting their customers.”

Brown cited Amazon.com as an example. The online superstore is notable for its targeted recommendations of products that shoppers see every time they log on to the site – the advisements are impressive because they’re usually right up the customer’s alley. Amazon doesn’t generate these ideas by making guesses based on whether the consumer is old or young, male or female – instead, the site takes in specific information about people’s buying histories and looks for similar products.

This approach is quickly becoming mainstream. It’s not hard to understand why – people don’t like being reduced to profiles of their demographic characteristics. Consumers are expecting more from the companies they do business with. Thanks to the rapidly improving technologies that companies use for data collection, marketers can be more targeted and make more intelligent interactions.

Building a single customer view starts with accurate data – click to view the full infographic.

Click to view the full infographic.

However, to take advantage of these new technologies, marketers need to maintain high quality data. Without a data quality strategy, customer information will be spread out across the organization, making it difficult to make intelligent marketing offers.

To learn more about improving your understanding of consumers, check-out our infographic on building a single customer view.