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Are brands missing a data opportunity?

July 25, 2011

Nicholas Feltron , Ben Willers (shown above) and others are examples of “artists” who areĀ  collecting and using their own personal data to find ways to showing patterns and rhythms in their own existence.

It takes time and an obsessive mind to get to this level of painstaking detail and to what end?

However, it’s likely in the very near future each one of us will have a large data repository of our behaviors- some will be “ours” and some will belong to “corporations”. How we intend to use it and get the most out of it will depend on just how willing brands are to share and how many consumer-centric “middlemen” emerge to help make it happen.

Brands have for years been collecting masses of data on their customers which they’ve intended to use “against” them.

I am being “flip”, but the current state and world of data mining is really a pure B2B play with giant corporations helping brands, play with, append and manipulate their data with the prime objective being more fruitful marketing efforts.

It’s based on the old “command and control” model- with the brand controlling the data and using it to maintain their power over the subservient consumer.

Could there be another way of thinking about this?

What if brands were to give up their data and share it with their customers?

I am not talking about doing this as an act of transparency- although that would be advisable and smart, I am really suggesting there will be forms and analysis of data that could be used to make customers more engaged with the brands product or service.

Here are some examples;

Insurance companies are using devices to collect data on how you drive- although it benefits the insured in the form of lower premiums, there’s no “data-flow” between insurer and insured. This could be used to help the driver drive safer or more efficiently

Car companies hold exactly the same data which could be used in a similar way

Grocery stores use data purely to reward and switch their customers from one brand to another, but isn’t there more they could be doing. Providing menu and dietary advice and suggestions for example

You can think about data on a personal level, but also there’s huge power in comparing the personal to the universe.

Utilities could be doing a better job here- this isn’t about installing the “Smart Grid” they already know who consumes what, so why not create averages and norms?

Netflix captures a lot of information about movie preferences and uses it to make recommendation, but could this be more sophisticated? Could you see what’s trending? Could you compare your tastes to those of others? Could you dig deeper into this data?

Data as a marketing tool is already a huge industry, but it’s being used in a very old-fashioned way.

It won’t be long before some brands realize there’s an opportunity to get closer to their customers by finding clever and creative ways to share data. In addition, we are going to see new entities emerge that act as “curators’ and “agents” for consumers- collecting and analyzing data on their behalf to help make intelligent recommendations and suggestions.

Data has the ability to change the way we interact with and experience brands and used correctly and in a much more open way it will create much deeper and more personalized relationships than currently exist.


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