23rd November 2017 | Ben

Technology & IT, Data, Marketing strategy

Too much data to be effective?

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Data Effectiveness

If the online philosophers are to be believed then we create more data every two days than was created in the first 2003 years AD. It certainly sounds good and I wouldn’t mind betting it is near some form of the truth. But with so much data in existence are we now so awash with it that we have gone past the point of effectiveness?

Here is a real life example.

For approximately 10 years, Tesco was the main beneficiary of our grocery expenditure at home. Like many of you out there we spent an unhealthy proportion of our income with these guys and every so often they would ‘reward’ us with a fistful of Clubcard vouchers to spend – guess what – with them!
Every so often, the offers and deals that accompanied these vouchers reflected our spending habits or appeared to be blatant attempts to get us to try something new or switch brands. I imagine that behind the scenes the reps at Unilever, Procter and Gamble et al had some access to the Tesco consumer data and therefore influence over the offers – maybe even underwriting them to some extent.

As someone that uses consumer insight and data to do their job I accepted this and most of the time did not ignore the opportunity to try and save a few pounds here and there – although typically those vouchers lead you to spend more in the long run! I accepted that my own habits and spending data would be used against me!

Fast forward to 2017 and an ASDA opens across the road – 7 miles closer than Tesco. We decided to give it a try as a like for like replacement on brands, tins, cleaning products etc. We genuinely saved some money and so switched our allegiance. It is now eight months on and we’re spending less, but all of it in ASDA – with the exception of the odd ‘overheard in ASDA’ item like anchovy stuffed olives!

I appreciate that whilst it feels like I spend all my money on groceries each month, my Tesco spend was a drop in the ocean of their revenues, but I cannot believe that they do not have the data analysis in place to identify that a regular shopper has clearly ‘disappeared’. I have heard nothing. I also cannot believe that I am alone. New supermarkets open all over the place everyday, most with some form of loyalty scheme and so they must be able to identify leavers and stayers, surely?

The reason for highlighting this example, apart from the fact it is an obvious own goal, is because in every other aspect of data usage, the supermarket chains are leaders – store layouts, foot flow, shelf height placement, stock management, staffing, prices, promotions etc. So I can only assume that either they don’t care (cue small violin to echo my sense of insignificance) or they have so much data that they cannot pick me out of the crowd. Either way, in such a competitive environment I am surprised that no effort has been made to woo us back to Tesco.

I did wonder whether their systems are so advanced that they had already anticipated my departure when ASDA revealed its plans, but then I remembered that most of our Tesco spend was online and delivered, so proximity was not an issue. The one downside to having ASDA across the road is we actually visit a shop again which, whilst being a right faff and another thing to fit in to a busy lifestyle, is increasing my step count on my fitness data app. See data is everywhere but not all of it is used correctly.

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