By: Bodie Crist
During his guest lecture last week, Dave Markowitz discussed the potential applications of big data and how it could influence the way that brands interact with their audiences. Big data is the collection and application of information representing large and diverse audiences. This information has become available as a direct result of the digital revolution and big data software, and because of the incredibly high volume of data, the only proper way to utilize it is through computer processing. Advertising and media professionals have already begun to utilize this tool to narrow down their audiences to people that express the specific traits that they are looking for. The next step for brands beyond seeking individuals with certain traits or interests is using big data to engage with audiences based on their values and personal beliefs.
As social media becomes an even greater tool for the individual to share their values, it creates an opportunity for brands to do the exact same thing. This requires that brands demonstrate a higher level of commitment than a corporate social responsibility campaign, such as publicity stunts or one-time charitable donations. Modern consumers are passionate about brands that have a central purpose at their core and use that purpose to guide how they conduct all aspects of their business. A strong example of a brand that uses its core values to create a relationship with its audience is Patagonia. Instead of selling outdoor gear at the detriment of the environment, Patagonia has made their passion for sustainability an active part of how they conduct business. They openly share their core values and make sure that any decision they make is centered around sustainability.
Once a brand has taken the necessary steps to place their core values be the center of their operation, big data can provide the resources to properly reach their intended audience. By using big data to connect with individuals based on their own personal beliefs, brands can create a relationship with an audience that shares their core values. Because these relationships are founded in mutually shared beliefs, brands will be able to convey a level of authenticity and trust they would not be capable of producing through other means. Going back to the Patagonia example, one way that they are utilizing big data to better engage their audience is through Patagonia Action Works. Patagonia Action Works is a service that connects environmental activists and organizations that can provides resources. Because of how Patagonia uses their data, they can communicate authentically, create deeper relationships, and foster systemic changes that represent the core values of themselves as well as their audience.