Digital World = Data

Digital World = Data

Close your eyes for a moment and think about everything you did this morning. You probably opened your phone, checked your email and/or social media, texted a friend, or searched for something online. Now try to imagine how many people in the world also did the same things.

What each of these actions have in common is that they all incorporate the usage of data. The volume of data which is produced and collected every day is growing at an unprecedented pace as a result of the proliferation of devices, services, and sensors throughout the world. From a marketing perspective, this data provides a huge opportunity to better reach customers. Gap,’13, and VP of Marketing at Ripple, a fintech company, shared his perspective on those opportunities in an event hosted by the Kilts Center for Marketing.

Throughout the lecture Gap provided many practical examples using publicly available data. He began by presenting a heat map of San Francisco. The map showed red data points for photos taken by locals and blue data points for photos uploaded by tourists. Gap explained that since mobile devices track your location, it is possible to know if the device is out of its normal area, and thus infer if you’re a local or a visitor. Access to this data presents a lot of opportunities for marketers. For example, let’s say you are about to open a new restaurant. You can know exactly what type of audience you’ll be catering to and use this data to establish your marketing strategy.

Consumer behavior data is extremely useful for marketers. In the past obtaining this data was more difficult as marketers had to conduct consumer surveys, or polls, or pay for third-party data. Today, however, with the widespread usage of the internet and mobile phones, there is a lot of information that is easily available and can be used immediately. Gap demonstrated this with two interesting examples. First, he asked us if the likelihood of someone proposing is equally spread out throughout the year. To my surprise the answer is that it is not. Gap displayed a trend of searches for engagement rings, which showed that most searches are done during January and February, so the likelihood of someone proposing is much higher at the beginning of the year. Gap displayed another interesting behavioral pattern. At the beginning of the year searches for gyms, workout, and weight loss related topics spike, but steadily decline over time. Thus, if you were a business trying to sell goods related to engagement rings or fitness you can easily know that it’s better to advertise at the beginning of the year.

The amount of information and accessibility of the data completely changed the way businesses go-to-market. In the past, businesses followed a strict business plan in which they developed a product locally, and then expanded and hopefully scaled globally. In the digital age, there is less friction. Customers no longer have to be local and can be literally be anywhere. As a result, a businesses can launch internationally right off the bat. In addition, businesses need less capital to test their ideas. They can get feedback quickly to know the viability of the product and use it to change/refine it and then scale. This is incredibly exciting for marketers. Gap explained that “Because of data and information, the scope is shifting beyond just driving brand awareness, and more and more marketers are expected to feed into product development.” Previously, organizations would separate product marketing and marketing, but today they are almost entirely combined.

Gap then switched gears and focused on new opportunities that exist in emerging markets. Since 85% of the world population is in these markets, there is a lot of demand for new products and services from all over the world. He says, “Innovations are happening at an incredible pace. This used to be a competitive advantage for us in the West, but now a lot of those innovations are happening in the East or in other growth markets.” However, Gap claimed innovation alone isn’t an advantage when entering these markets. To explain this, he walked us though Uber’s attempt to expand into South east Asia. We all know that ultimately, Uber was not successful and decided to pull out of South east Asia. Yet, it was incredibly interesting to learn why Uber, which was well funded and incredibly innovative, wasn’t able to beat the local competitor, Grab. Gap walked through the data that existed at the time and provided a lot of insight into what marketers should look for and why Uber’s strategy failed.

To conclude, Gap’s lecture was one of my Booth highlights. I learned so much about marketing, how to obtain publicly available information, and what to look for as you build a marketing strategy.

For more information about the Kilts Center for Marketing, click here.