Predict and shape demand with consumer data

Consumers have a much greater say than they used to in terms of the products created and how they are marketed to. The push method of selling, telling someone why they need to buy your product, seems to be slowly falling out of favor as companies strive to create demand for their products by developing what customers actually want.

Companies that actually find ways to read customer demand and meet their needs are succeeding in this time of flux from push to pull selling methods. Netflix and Amazon come to mind as two great companies using insights to understand what consumers want to see. They collect data, find insights, and listen to consumers directly through social media.

Predict consumer demands with data

Netflix features new and original content, they say derived from their unique insight into consumer viewing habits. Their data is much more comprehensive than Nielsen reviews and the way Nielsen collects data (with selected people journaling their encounters with content).

Netflix's investment in developing original content has paid off for them, to the tune of an extra $2.48 billion. They even claim that popular hits like House of Cards was derived from big data on consumers.

Make the online experience easier with big data

Amazon is another company using their large pool of data to determine a greater insight into what consumers are looking for with their recommended products and other innovations. The company was built on the principle that the "customer is always right" and they offer a low touch service comparable in value to high touch customer service organizations.

For Bezos a data-driven customer focus lets him take risks to innovate, secure in the belief that he’s doing the right thing. “We are comfortable planting seeds and waiting for them to grow into trees,” says Bezos. “We don’t focus on the optics of the next quarter; we focus on what is going to be good for customers. I think this aspect of our culture is rare.”
— George Anders, Forbes

With this focus, they are beating out companies that tout customer service. With data equaling power, Amazon is set up for success with "200 million customer accounts hosting their 1,000,000,000 GB of data on more than 1,400,000 servers."

Listen to consumers with social media

Netflix, and companies utilizing social media, can also derive insights into consumers by interacting with them directly. Social media is an unprecedented opportunity to learn directly from consumers what they want and then develop new products, more effective interfaces, and additional competencies to create the pull demand.

One tweet and Tumblr post led to a new Netflix movie deal. This type of interaction with customers, and even between actresses, can help shape the new way products are developed with a consumer taking a more active role. Instead of focus groups in a controlled setting, customers can now let companies know exactly what they want.

Recommendations for marketers

  • Learn what data you have and how you can use it. Some systems don't integrate together or don't collect the exact data you would like or need. How can you help existing structures work better together?
  • When designing a new service, remember what you want to learn. If you're trying to gain customer leads, patterns, or opinions make sure you create your collection system before launching rather than after. It's much easier to set yourself up ready to collect at the beginning of an exercise than in the middle.
  • Keep listening posts on social media. Monitor your handles on social media and reach out to consumers interacting with your company and brands. By responding to customers directly, they have an additional positive experience with the company. Not just responding to negative comments, but to positive ones as well, can drive a greater brand equity.

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