Big data, or the analysis of large data sets, is being billed as the new must-have for businesses and brands who want to remain competitive in the future. Depending on who you talk to it is either the best thing since sliced bread or the latest fad to dangle more than it can deliver. But amongst all of the clamour from software companies, famous brands and sacred cows of the marketing world we noticed there was an important absentee. A group who have a vested interest in big data, because it is their data.
We spent a day in Leeds finding out what people thought about retail brands using their data in order to sell them more products or services. Based on the feedback from the good people of Leeds, it would appear there is a good deal of cynicism regarding the collection, holding and utilisation of people’s personnel information. Many of the people we spoke to expressed concerns that their information would be sold onto other businesses or used to bombard them with offers.
However it’s not all bad news, several people who shared their thoughts with us spoke positively about their willingness to share their information if it helped them find out about products that were relevant to them or get better deals.
Going forward, we think brands will need to work hard to win the trust of consumers and transparency will be key. Brands will need to make the case to consumers regarding why they want the information and more importantly why it will be beneficial to the customer. But brands beware, many of the people we spoke to would prefer that their data was not collected and any attempts to do so surreptitiously could be met with a consumer-led, social media fuelled backlash.