Big Data, Big Surprises

The days of gut-instinct decision making in the marketing department are over. Customer-intelligence capabilities driven by big data is the smartest way to underpin a marketing strategy, and it’s resulting in some curious insights.

Big Data, Big Surprises

Chief marketing officers are among business’s biggest spenders on technology. The biggest driver of their technology expenditure? Big data.

Data trails left behind by organisations and consumers require skilled marketers to mine through the findings. Of equal importance is the ability to identify idiosyncrasies in data and leverage them to create unique, but compelling campaigns.

The “2016 Toolkit” report, released by researchers at online advertising service Warc, in association with Deloitte Digital, forecasts a more active interplay of data-driven activity and creative thinking within marketing departments over the next 12 months. The report revealed that marketers will need to leverage smarter data analysis to drive better insights and build more creative strategies, including sharper, behaviour-based segmentation models.

If enough audience data is known, and those audiences can be effectively targeted through digital channels, creative can be tailored accordingly, according to the Warc report.

This was the genesis of Kraft’s revamp of marketing for its Vegemite brand in Australia. Vegemite is a dark, salty spread made from yeast extract. The product is much-loved among Australians, but it certainly represents an acquired taste. The long-standing campaign had revolved around the infamous “Happy Little Vegemites” song. But by 2008 sales had fallen flat.

So the company dug deep into the 1.5 million posts on social networking sites, blogs, message boards, and online news and found 479,206 mentions of Vegemite in 38 languages. The analysis came up with some surprising results and identified large groups of Australians who enjoyed having their Vegemite in 32 different ways. (One curious way was spreading it on pancakes with sugar.)

Acknowledging these insights led to the successful online and mainstream campaign, “How do you like your Vegemite?” The 2009 campaign helped to revive Vegemite sales, marked by a 5% increase that year compared with 2008.

Unexpected Reaction

What started as an unofficial fan page for Australians to share their nostalgia for the iconic Bubble O’Bill ice cream ended up being the most-liked Australian brand page on Facebook.

With well over 1 million likes, in January Unilever Australia relaunched the cowboy-faced dessert with a bubble gum nose 31 years after it first hit the market. Using social-listening tools, Unilever examined the sentiment on the Bubble O’Bill fan page to create a colourful, tongue-in-cheek summer campaign based on the theme of giving consumers a break from the “serious side of life.”

One of the advertisements in the series references the beach with a Splice (vanilla ice cream covered in pineapple flavouring) in a bikini with a bite mark, and a Bubble O’Bill declaring: “I can see your white bits.”

“We are trying to put a smile on people’s faces during that return-to-work period,” said Anthony Toovey, Unilever Australia’s marketing director, ice cream, in an article for Australian marketing publication Mumbrella.

Spinach Seals The Deal

Koji Suzuki, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten’s head of data-driven marketing, said he believes data-driven solutions enables companies to “pull out the subconscious desires of customers and turn them into business opportunities.” The company employed this thinking to increase business from new users of its online grocery service.

Suzuki said the company’s data scientists discovered first-time users were more likely to purchase only root vegetables–due to suspicion about the quality of food delivered via online shopping channels.

Data analysis ascertained that for customers to continue shopping for food online depended on one unlikely leafy green vegetable: spinach.

“We discovered that those online grocery shoppers who used to buy only root vegetables will start buying other products, including tomatoes, right after purchasing spinach,” Suzuki said. “This is the moment when their past impressions about online grocery shopping dramatically shifted from ‘suspicious low-quality food delivery’ to ‘useful online grocery with high-quality food products.’”

As a consequence of this finding, Suzuki said, Rakuten redesigned its nurturing strategy to encourage customers to buy spinach through promotion coupons and discounts.

See what the Twitterverse is saying about big data: