10 It didn't used to be like this. The last chapter explained how data creates customer benefits; next, we shall be returning to the past to analyse how the marketing industry has evolved, enabling a better understanding of how transactional customer data can transform business. Even 20 years ago when the Ford motor company had learnt to appreciate the importance of offering a rainbow spectrum of cars, marketing was very different. It was less about saying thank you to existing customers and more about chasing new elusive ones. It was less about personalisation, more about acquisition. Even as companies began to understand the importance of gleaning business insights from their customer base, the process of information gathering was time consuming and arduous. Say what you do; do what you say Once companies had appreciated the importance of understanding their customers a little better they started asking them questions. They asked them what they did, what they liked to do and what they thought about different products or services. Traditional quantitative market researchers such as Nielsen used panel and sampling methods to provide manufacturers with sales and market share trends. Meanwhile, traditional qualitative research placed a handful of customers behind a two- way mirror in focus groups. Sometimes they were given products to sample, sometimes they were asked to watch a TV ad. The researcher asked them questions about a product or service, which they then answered. Traditional research asked people what they did, rather than watching them in action. We now know that there can be a big difference between what people say they do and how they really act. Attitude to sustainability is a case in point. There has always been a disconnection between consumers who say it's important to buy green products, and consumers who really do. People's principles don't necessarily translate into action, especially in a tough economic climate. An interim industry? The research industry was invented because we didn't know what was going on. It was an interim industry, created to fill a gap. It has served its purpose well, enabling companies to connect a little better with customers. any colour you like as long as it's any colour you like We know that there can be a big difference between what people say they do and how they really act
11 monochrome world However, traditional market research has never been ideal. It's expensive, it's relatively slow and it's not entirely accurate. A traditional market researcher is posing questions that he or she deems to be important. This leaves little or no space for insights that may be important to the customer, but are not considered or acknowledged by a business. Market research took a long time to design, commission, conduct and analyse. This means the data took a long time coming. It was usually delivered to manufacturing clients three months or more after the sales were made. By that point it was difficult, and certainly costly, to tweak a new product or change an unpopular advertising campaign. Once the research had been evaluated, a marketer was more likely to make necessary changes during the next annual brand planning review. Speeding up Today, there's been a fundamental change in the connection between customer and business. Loyalty cards enable savvy analysts to examine customers' purchasing behaviour in order to better understand who they are. We've all done it ourselves in a supermarket. As we stand in queue waiting for our turn, it's tempting to peer into other shoppers' trolleys and work out what kind of person they might be. Second, virtually everything is faster. From a leisurely three-monthly reporting lag of bi- monthly data, today dunnhumby can provide hourly grocery sales data for more than 14m shoppers within days of the actual event taking place. Indeed, dunnhumby can identify shoppers of a particular product, invite them to participate in research and have integrated feedback on attitudes and behaviours for the same customers almost immediately. dunnhumby has become a pioneer in new real- time relationships between businesses and their customers. Truth hurts? Today we live in a transitional world where we can find out what millions of people are doing instantaneously. We know the real- time transactions of over 200m households across the world through the loyalty schemes of our clients. There are no errors. There are no smoke and mirrors. This is not a sample. It's just fact.