Information Is Power - But Not Enough

Big Data, big deal!


Countless businesses have been overwhelmed, indeed swamped, with information as a direct consequence of implementing the process and capacity of Big Data.


Invaluable insights on the perceptions, preferences, buying patterns and essential characteristics of individuals, families and groupings have been retrieved.


In the main they remain uncollated, awaiting analysis and astute deployment and application.


How ironic. So much information, and so little intelligence.




The marketplace feedback is disturbing, and damning.


A recent extensive national survey of consumers concluded that some 72% of recipients of customised, personalised correspondence – determined and influenced by data from their own past transactions – deleted or did not read the literature pieces.


Design, layout and graphics were, seemingly, not key contributors to such consumer indifference and non-responsiveness.


It seems that many contemporary consumers now determine whom they will interact with, buy from and be loyal to, and the manner in which they will do so.


In short, company initiated advertising, promotional texts and communication are, to many, considered to be unsolicited, and often, unwelcome intrusions


That is little removed from the unenviable stigma of junk mail.




Much of the prevailing attitudes and non-responsiveness to customised, big data – are the consequence of past experiences with mass-produced, non-discriminatory bulk-mail and emails.


The underlying marketing issue is categorisation, not packaging. Many marketing, selling, promotion, sales and service initiatives suffer from commodization. Therefore, individual contacts with existing, prospective and past customers and clients tend to suffer from “not being opened” – rejected - rather than being read, and comprehended and then rejected. Read: Selective Perception and Reception.




Even finely packaged offers on products, services and brands which are conspicuous in the past buying patterns of individuals have at best, a mere 50% prospect of a positive response from targeted consumers.


The importance of time, and timing does not appear to be recognised and respected by some business leaders and their marketers. Great, appealing, financially attractive and compelling value-offerings can pretty much lack relevance, if the timing is not right.


Different strokes for different folks.


Big Data alone is not the answer, just like quantitative research findings. They provide overviews on statistical patterns and address the questions about what and how.


The worth of quantitative research is optimised when it is complemented, and typically pre-empted by attitudinal research. That latter methodology probes, and provides insights on the questions about why.


That is why demographic profiles of targeted audiences only provide part-answers. Psycho-graphic profiles are multi-dimensional, insightful and, potentially, incredibly powerful. Big Data typically lacks the latter's data inputs and insights.




Among the key findings of the major research study into Big Data– initiated communications, many females expressed concern that their important and fundamental role as the primary buying agent was not recognised. That is, the differentiation between being the customer and the consumer.


Some 58% of menswear is sold to women. Not for them to wear, but for use by significant males in their lives, be they sons, partners, relatives or friends.


Yet there's a conspicuous absence of females in a large percentage of menswear advertising, merchandising, promotional and point-of-purchase literature.


The power of families extends well beyond “the hand that rocks the cradle”.




The prevailing under-performance of many Big Data- based business development initiatives does not imply or conclude that all entities should turn away from, or reject the principles and practice of data collection, analysis and use.


It does, however, highlight the imperative of recruiting and retaining people who have the skills, experience and training to effectively convert the raw information into valuable intelligence.


Like social media, Big Data is, and should be utilised to complement and accelerate existing channels to and between targeted customers.


A discerning touch is what separates the attractive and profitable latent potential from the current poor and marginal returns which are being experienced ....-and not enjoyed by all the participants.


It's all in the execution. Get it wrong, and it will kill you.





Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally recognised and respected conference keynote speaker, consumer behaviour analyst and marketing strategist.


Barry Urquhart

Marketing Strategist and Analyst

Marketing Focus

M:   041 983 5555