In this economic landscape with growing consumer markets and new communication outlets that seem to gain ground exponentially, it is hard for many companies to keep up, let alone think ahead. In the not so distant past, consumers viewed just a handful of advertisement fueled communication mediums. Today the average customer seems to be bombarded with messages with every turn of their head, as technology has taken marketing and advertising to a whole new level. The companies that seem to thrive in today’s business culture are those that take these new technological advancements in stride and use them to better understand consumer wants and needs. In my opinion the most important aspect of marketing is to be able to get inside of a customer’s head, really wrap your product and brand around those needs. Taking advantage of the tools and data available allows companies to understand their consumer’s wants and needs, making the relationship stronger for both the business and the customer.
The overall idea of data mining is the use of valuable point of sale data in conjunction with customer demographics, to better direct sales and marketing activities to the correct customer. This is becoming common practice throughout the web especially. Facebook is a great example of this in which the advertisements that you see are directly tied to an algorithm that takes into consideration the items you have stated in your profile as well as what you have posted on your status updates. Recently, I liked the Doberman Pincher page on my Facebook page because of the love of my own, and immediately I began receiving advertisement links to Doberman memorabilia for sale online.
One example of the power of data mining that was recently in the news happened to a large retailer. A father received coupons from the store for items that would be useful for a customer who is expecting a baby in his teenage daughters name over a period of time. He was enraged, and came into the local store to express his feelings to a manager, claiming the retailer was promoting pre-marital relations to his daughter. Upon the follow up from a higher level corporate representative, the gentleman informed the representative that there were things happening with his daughter that he was unaware of and he had recently found out she was pregnant. Examples like this bring a whole new mindset to how companies are looking at their point of sale and customer demographic data. Conveniences and personal consumer knowledge bring discussions of ethical and legal grounds. But, in many instances the government is unable to keep up with the ethical and legal judgments of new technology. The line between what is and what is not evasive to the consumer begins to gray, and is open to personal interpretation.
Where do you stand on this topic? Do you feel that this is an evasive use of materials, or are they just using what they already have? This makes you think, what will advertisements and marketing be like in twenty years? It is hard for many people to comprehend the technological advancements, let alone how many marketing professionals are using this technology to capitalize before the competition. Recently, a large baby product retailer was informed by their marketing team that they had noticed a drastic increase in baby name search words in a certain area of the country from data they purchased. The retailer used this information to stock the appropriate stores, in which they received a large increase in sales over that area. Although this was a gamble, using information that could be perceived in various ways to their advantage, which ultimately paid off. Examples such as this give you an idea of the power of data.
With technology growing exponentially, the world in many ways in changing just as fast. In order to succeed, people and companies must think further and further ahead to anticipate the future readers of a client, and capitalize on this. This is where Tend Spotting experts such as Faith Popcorn (www.faithpopcorn.com), who works with companies to anticipate the needs and lifestyle of people in the future, to get ahead of their competitors in terms of taking care of their clients changing needs. Better understanding of your customer allows you to evaluate the needs of that market, so your service can fulfill that need and collect a profit. Understanding the sociological perspective of your primary markets, allows you to get ahead of the pack by making strategic business decisions based off sociological trends of various markets of customers.
What happens when you make important business decisions without understanding the consumer first? There are many examples of this, but the one that sticks out in the hospitality industry is the Euro Disney project. Recounts of the project, discuss many things that Disney did not take into account and also took bad advice in the process. In many ways they felt cultural decisions that they hold to in the United States, would transcend in Europe, and this was not so. These mistakes compiled into Disney not maximizing their profits, and in many ways looked at the project as a mistake in which they quickly changed to form around the customer’s needs. With the park built in France, the name “Euro Disney” was thought of as disrespectful, as they felt the name was infringing on nations personal identity. The park did not serve wine, which many guests found to be absurd. They heard that guests would want to bring their pets, so they built kennels, not knowing they would want to bring the pets in the room with them. This goes to show that barging into a market without doing your homework even for the most successful companies, can be a drastic mistake.
Alec is the editor of Define and the Director of Sales & Marketing at Grand Oaks Event & Business Center in Grove City.