In February I attended MIE, the largest Marketing & Insights Event in the Netherlands. It was the 14th time this event took place and once again it was very well attended with 2,800 visitors, from the marketing and market-research sector.
One of the main topics of MIE was Digital Analytics. Also defined as Big Data, it’s the passive form of online data-collection without the intervention of an interview tool. As we all are well aware, the amount of online data available has grown explosively in recent years. And so are the possibilities of it. For example, in a second we can figure out the public opinion about certain large topics; we know what the most popular television-show was from last night, what we think about the latest iPhone release and if the dress was either white or blue…And so on.
Is there more to explore in the use of Big Data? Since we are just starting, I would say a big yes!
With all consumers having a digital footprint these days, collected via variety of individual databases, the information about our potential target groups is already gathered. But let’s go one step further: imagine what will happen if we would be able to connect the enormous databases which currently stand alone. This would enable us to get to know our customers almost ‘in person.’ Giving the fact we are living in a connected, digital world, this would suggest we could fully track the quest of the customer from browsing till actually buying. By combining their Google search queries with their Instagram, their posts and connections on Facebook, their opinions on Twitter and their business profile on LinkedIn with their supermarket bonus card information, we would be able to follow what our customers are doing and check on each step they take.
Hypothetically, will we have it all, if this becomes possible? Can we consider the work of the market researcher done in this case?
My answer would be no. If all this information becomes accessible we certainly will know what our customers are doing, but will we also understand why they are doing this? I guess not, as we only see what is happening, but the consumer is not telling us why. We will miss out the important insights that can make the difference when strategic marketing decisions are being made. In my opinion this is the core and the most important part to know; why are people doing what they are doing? Only by knowing that, you’ll know how you might be able to change one’s behavior.
And that will be the part where online market research will complement the findings provided by Digital Analytics. Online market research can convert all the pieces of information into valuable knowledge. It enables us to ‘Reveal the Gaps’ that are left open by Digital Analytics, and to understand the full picture of what + why.