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Big Data

Joined up data “dots” (and why every little helps!)

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
April 30 2015,
updated
July 3 2020

The term people-watching conjures romantic images of gazing in interest at the fashionably clad, while sipping a frothy cappuccino at a sidewalk café. Perhaps on a tree-lined boulevard not a million miles from the Champs-Élysées. Fascinating, of course, but nothing compared to the entertainment value of other people’s “10 items or less” baskets as you queue at the supermarket.

An analytical mind, and a rough idea of the number of product lines in the average store, could probably calculate the probability of two baskets ever holding the same contents. But to a humble marketer like me each one seems as distinctive as a fingerprint!

Which is why the Tesco Clubcard is one of the most successful loyalty programmes of all time. Where it succeeded was not just capturing the sales data - the easy bit that receipts and till rolls provide and which all retailers have access to - but finding a way of linking that basket, its owner and its unique contents and set of circumstances to an individual consumer.

What insight these baskets provide. Not just what people buy, but in what combination (red wine with chicken, are you sure?), at what time of day, and at what type of store. Knowing what they like, and just as critically what they don’t, makes for hyper-targeted and relevant offers and promotions.

Because if a shopper never buys pet food there’s little point in sending him vouchers for pet insurance. No baby wipes or baby formula? Then discounts for nappies won’t have her rushing back.

An anonymous loyalty card where the coffee drinker simply earns a free latte for every ten he pays full price for is just that, a reward for fidelity. But it’s the number on the Clubcard, or more accurately that number’s assignation/registration to an individual consumer, that’s the little magic nugget. It’s the unique identifier that holds it all together and builds an ever-growing profile and picture of his habits and needs.

That nugget is where many business’s data falls down. Countless databases filled with disparate contact information (in an array of formats) inventory records and transactional information exist, but without the necessary golden thread to join them.

Using recording, appending, linking, cleansing and management we’re able to weave a thread through the bits and bytes of your data and create a definitive and holistic picture of your customers and prospects. Insight which, in turn, makes for intelligent and successful marketing. It’s the scientific equivalent of peering in to someone’s shopping basket, but without the risk of a punch on the nose!

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