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Gauging Consumer Interests

September 10, 2013

Each time a consumer engages with a brand, an opportunity is created to learn about that person.

'Challenging' is the best way to describe attempting to define consumer interests.

The world is comprised of numerous communication methods that have allowed us to learn more and more about the everyday consumer. These communication methods have led to an overwhelming amount of information that businesses have to analyze every day. The analysis of information is being conducted with the goal of learning more and more about consumers, including how each one interacts with brands or products. However, is the information we are gathering really helping us to understand the communication base or is it a distraction from our overarching goal, the ability to gauge and identify consumer interests?

A few summers ago, New York City had a bed-bug problem. As with any problem, opportunities were created and companies came out with solutions to prevent and resolve bed-bug problems. I decided to purchase a protective bed coverings from Amazon. For months after making this purchase, I received contextual promotions for bed-bug products. The promotion of the products did not keep me engaged as the majority of these product purchases are one-time purchases. In fact, Amazon was losing possible conversion by only looking at my purchase history and not understanding whether this was a genuine and continuing interest.

The purpose of this story is not to knock Amazon; the company’s technology and methodology are incredible. My story illustrates how complicated it is solve the challenge of identifying true consumer interest. In today’s evolving world, we have to take into account all the ways consumers engage with our companies: social media, websites, brick-and-mortar stores and many more.

Each time a consumer engages with a brand, an opportunity is created to learn about that person. The ability to aggregate this information allows us to begin to identify the interests of the consumer. Using myself as an example, there are numerous brands I engage with by purchasing products in-store and online. There are also numerous ways I find that information, including billboards, my social networks and print ads. If all that data can be combined and companies can aggregate that level of information, then why can’t we begin to define consumer interests?

The fact is that the analytical tools available today fall short in providing one complete view across all this information. The labor necessary to sift through all of this information is time consuming and expensive; hence, the increasing emphasis being placed on data scientists. However, there are steps you can take towards defining consumer interests:

1)    Review organizational data policy. It is vital for each company to break down organizational walls and to institute policies that facilitate the sharing of data across the organization. You can’t begin to define a holistic story if you cannot access the information.

2)    Create the “right” analytical portfolio. Technology is an important part of being able to gauge interest. Every organization must begin to define its big-data collection strategy and embrace new toolsets like Oracle’s Endeca Information Discovery.

3)    Take action. Engage the right individuals internally and externally to take action. Being able to gauge interest is critical but defining how best to take action is even more critical to driving revenue and overall marketing efficacy.

4)    Increase brand engagement. Once enacted, the result of this investment will allow you to define more engaging campaigns via the methods your consumers engage. The ability to have a conversation with your consumer that speaks to interests rather than just buying patterns speaks to a level of caring, leading ultimately to retention and conversion.

Companies need to start engaging with consumers by going beyond the buy. Companies must make the effort to understand what current and prospective consumer interests are and cater to those interests. This could take the form of new partnerships, shifting of marketing strategies, and the running of cross-departmental campaigns. If you demonstrate knowledge of consumer interest your likelihood of increasing conversion is greatly increased.

Have you started working on your big-data collection strategy? Do you have a favorite set of tools or an experience you would like to share? Let us hear your thoughts.

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