One of the most volatile issues facing American marketers today may be demographic, targeted marketing. This is particularly so when it comes to segmentation that picks out certain “ideal” groups as potentially good customers, while ignoring others as lousy ones.
It seems innocuous enough on its surface. A TV spot for a diabetes drug might feature black actors. Why? Studies show that minorities have a higher prevalence of diabetes than whites, and some minorities have higher rates of diabetes-related complications and death. It’s not that other spots don’t feature whites; it’s that minorities can be considered an especially appropriate demographic for a particular drug, and thus are targeted by marketers.
Here’s something similar that’s a bit less clear, a bit more problematic: The maker of Kool menthol cigarettes specifically targets the black demographic, tying its product image to a hip and sophisticated lifestyle. Newport and Salem, other mentholated brands, similarly orient their advertising disproportionately to blacks, and the response has been overwhelming: 80% of adolescent African-American smokers use menthol cigarettes.
Never before have marketers had so much information about prospects, customers, the competition, and the markets they hope to reach. Sounds like a happy situation, right? But say “Big Data” instead of “information,” and marketer smiles will turn upside down in a hurry.
But Big Data is information—competitive knowledge about the behaviors of customers, helping you learn how to adopt to those customers’ needs. This provides an excellent opportunity to respond in kind, with campaigns of information that directly address those needs.
Data flows like a river through the world, regardless of what problem it is asked to solve. Marketers just need fishing hooks to find it and fish it out of the river. The data might include mostly words, not numbers, so you may have to invest in technology not to get lost in the fire hose. But finding the opportunities in Big Data can be deceptively simple. Read more…