Surviving 2019 Is Going to Take More Than Big Data

Consumer loyalty used to mean something to brand marketers. If you held someone’s loyalty, there was little question you controlled their purse strings, and it took a significant amount of strategic effort to sway, say, a Coke drinker to become a Pepsi drinker.

In 2019, however, loyalty has become a bygone buzzword. So much so that, in its most recent Meaningful Brands report, Havas indicated that nearly 80% of brands “could disappear and no one would care.”

Given the possibility of an impending recession here in the U.S., there’s a likelihood that a significant number of brands could disappear. Look at the situation in retail. A little more than halfway through 2019, there have been more store closings than for all 2018, according to Rattled by the last recession, many brands are still struggling to adapt to a world where consumers are no longer blindly loyal.

That’s why marketers would be wise to embrace the emotional side of the business. What consumers do, how they feel and what they think about is all information that can help them understand and predict shopper behavior more precisely than loyalty data ever could.

Emotional data, or what I like to call “customer truth,” actually has a 1.5-times-greater impact on driving sales compared to other factors, according to research FocusVision recently conducted with Forrester.

For any brand looking to embrace emotion in 2019, a two-fold strategy is necessary.

Go beyond big data 

More than half of brands interviewed in the Forrester research said their marketing strategy is informed nearly or fully by big data. But by over-relying on big data such as  loyalty program activity and historical purchase behaviors, brands miss the full picture of customer activity.

It’s no surprise, then, that nearly two-thirds of the brands interviewed in the study have zero clarity into why a consumer opts to buy from a competitor. There’s a depth of insight that comes with pursuing customer truth that ultimately leads to increased revenue, advocacy and, not coincidentally, loyalty. Knowing how your brand makes your customers feel will give you that predictability.

Invest in the right tools   

Cultivating an understanding of how customers think, feel and act takes time. But brands that use market research tactics like qualitative interviews, studies and effective surveys are able to paint that holistic picture and better predict business outcomes.

Why? Small data simply does a better job of revealing emotion. Those marketers who prioritize small data on an ongoing basis are actually more likely to know why their brand wins over the competition.

Ultimately, brands need to use the right tools so they can ask the right questions and get the right data. If you want to truly understand how customers think, feel and act, you need to find ways to invest in the way people work, the processes that connect them and the technology to gather, analyze and share insights.