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Big data gets a lot of press, as it should, for making the best decisions possible especially when it comes to marketing. Another potential use of big data is helping companies build their brands. CNBC’s Elizabeth Gurdus recapped an interview between The Gap, Inc., President and CEO Art Peck and CNBC’s Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money. In it, he shares some impressive ways Gap uses big data to out-maneuver the competition, such as:

  • Direct its advertising dollars in the most effective way to get the best returns
  • Provide insights into what consumers want in a company
  • Pinpoint where the value is

But this comment from Peck at a J.P. Morgan retail conference gives us another clue towards the potential of big data as it pertains to brands:

“If you look at the difference between a customer who’s casually engaged and one who is really deeply engaged in our brands across channels, it’s at least 10 times the value of that [first] customer,” the CEO said, speaking at a J.P. Morgan retail conference.

Creating a connection with your customers — i.e., building your brand — is a lot like dating. If you’re in search of a mate, you do not walk into a bar (people still use those to date, right?) and start flirting with absolutely everyone. You start by narrowing it down by gender (usually), age range, and those who aren’t obviously with someone else. Big data can help you do that with potential brand champions, albeit without the cocktails.

When speaking about their Athleta brand, which subscribes to a strict set of social and environmental standards, Peck brought home how big data helped it connect with customers in a way typically limited to demographics such as age and gender:

“That’s a values issue that our customers are super responsive to. The engagement in that brand is amazing and that’s what consumers are looking for today,” Peck told Cramer. “I don’t care if it’s a millennial or a 70-year-old woman. She sees that as a brand that she can relate to from a values standpoint and it’s a really powerful equation.”

Every Spencer Brenneman, LLC client engagement focuses on finding relevant and competitively differentiated ways to connect with customers. Big data can help hone on the relevant part, augmenting traditional market research. Big data can help you ascertain what’s relevant to your customers by watching:

  • Evolving buying habits
  • Complementary purchases
  • Patronized and shunned channels (e.g., Target, Walmart, etc.)
  • Openness to cause-related promotions

Granted, that’s a small list for a big topic; however, you get the point. If you’re not that size of a Gap (and who is?) despair not. There are plenty of ways for you to buy big data, as outlined in Bernard Marr’s piece

Before making that investment, make certain you know exactly what questions big data can answer

Before making that investment, make certain you know exactly what questions big data can answer for finding that relevant and competitively differentiated connection with your customers. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a nightclub flirting with everyone.

— Douglas Spencer 

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