Big Data vs. Big Brother

Big BrotherBig Brother is Watching You.” ― George Orwell, 1984

Relevance. It’s the cornerstone of any effective retail consumer marketing, and ‘big data analytics’ has made it more achievable than ever.

But, as a retailer approaching big data for the purposes of targeted loyalty marketing, give careful consideration to how a consumer is likely to perceive your brand, based on how much you obviously know about them.

In short, how do you elicit a consumer response of “Fantastic, these guys really know me!” versus one of “How the hell do they know that?”

The waters have been muddied in recent times by the increasing association of ‘big data’ with the (seemingly justified) impression that we’re all living within a “well-established surveillance society.”

So it’s important to understand what lies at both ends of the big data spectrum.

Big Data as Big Brother
Think Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Or US whistle-blower Edward Snowden and his revelations about the National Security Agency’s PRISM program, and its links to Google and Telstra. Or President Obama’s ‘Insider Threat Program’. And that’s just for starters.

The concept of governments harvesting myriad data sources under the banner of ‘national security’ is nothing new. They just now have the internet and almost 50 billion connected devices to make their jobs just that little bit easier.

If you are a regular user of the Internet, a phone or a credit card, there’s plenty of data available for those with access (and a reason to look). So we can choose to live in an underground desert bunker with canned food, or accept that, by and large, if you have nothing to worry about, you have nothing to worry about (hopefully).

That’s at one end of the big data spectrum – let’s call it the right.

Big Data as Big Benefit
At the left of the spectrum is the ability to serve relevant, valuable offers to consumers that create a powerful emotional connection with your brand.

And while privacy legislation is the obvious safeguard as to how much information retailers can gather on consumers (without permission), it doesn’t mitigate consumer perception – that falls to you as the retailer.

A great place to start is giving consumers more opportunity to help you refine the personal information you have about them, and how that shapes the loyalty marketing offers and other communications you send them. And it’s not just a one off – in an ideal world, consumers will have this opportunity – overtly – every time they interact with your brand.

The more data you have, the more valuable and relevant the offers you can serve, the stronger the consumer brand connection.

Research tells us that the average consumer spends three times more with a retailer when their relationship is built on preferences, and that a loyal customer is up to 20 times more valuable than a disinterested one. So it seems clear where loyalty marketing is headed. And many retailers are already a long way down the path.

If consumers get an inkling that retailers know how they vote, or how their kids are performing at school, then there may be some sort of problem.

But if consumers continually receive valuable offers relating to their favourite brands from their favourite retailers, they are far more likely to remain loyal to that brand, and tell their friends about it.

And that’s a win for you and your customer.



Loyalty 360◦

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