Big data has been the buzzword du jour at any number of tech conferences in the last year or so, but its true value to brands and consumers is still yet to be fully realised, according to a panel of experts at the inaugural CES Asia. Hosted by Ogilvy & Mather China, the session brought together commercial giants like Coca-Cola, Chanel and Logitech to discuss who is currently winning in this space, and where brands can go with it in the future.
“We hear clients asking us how they continue to grow in this new normal,” says Tom Wan, Managing Director of Global Brands at Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai. “It’s not just about opening new stores and distribution channels anymore, it’s about having a deeper, more fluid understanding of the existing customer in better time – this is our secret weapon in the face of a slowing economy.”
Existing case studies might be in short supply, but as OgilvyOne’s Allen Xu points out, there are already brands out there who have demonstrated a clear vision and understanding when it comes to gathering and leveraging data to both enrich the customer experience and fulfil business needs. For instance, L’Oreal’s Magic Mirror campaign turned smartphones into personal stylists which then linked customers directly to Tmall to shop for existing products, while simultaneously helping the brand create entirely new products based on the data captured.
Online companies like WeChat are especially adept at getting consumers to volunteer more data that reveals their habits and movements. Didi Dache (China’s answer to Uber) incentivised the data gathering process by asking customers to log in their working hours, and offering those who worked late got a free ride. The benefit to the company was a greater insight into population flow at peak times based on timing and geolocation data, enabling optimal placement of taxis during rush hour.
These are still just the first steps towards unlocking the real potential of data, says Alimama’s Hua Zheng. The real progress will begin when brands can make more links between data and people to paint a fuller picture of their lives, including what they’re searching for online, what they’re listening to, and where they’re travelling to. Clement Tsang, Managing Director for Global Business Network Clients & Performance Marketing at [email protected], believes that using data in predictive modelling will be the norm within the next five to ten years.
That isn’t to say we should eschew privacy and security. Quite the opposite, in fact; if brands want to get their hands on people’s data, consumer trust will be more important than ever. “User privacy and data safety is a necessity,” says Deron Zhao of AdChina. “If you guarantee this, you will be a winner in this environment… If you cannot, you will lose.”