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Big Data plus selective perception equals marketing success

Big Data plus selective perception equals marketing success 

“Selective perception” refers to people’s tendency to see the things that reinforce what they believe or relate to while disregarding the things that do not. Mithun Sridharan, managing director of the Germany-based inbound marketing services firm Blue OS, explained why the principle of selective perception is important to marketing and how companies can use Big Data to leverage selective perception in order to attract and retain more customers.

Sridharan noted that perceptions are triggered by events experienced over the course of our lives. These “trigger events” shape how we perceive situations. Every time humans experience a trigger event, their perceptions change. As a result, selective perceptions are constantly created and reshaped. Sridharan believes that marketers can utilize trigger events and selective perception to their advantage. He urged advertisers to craft their messages based on trigger events so that it will capture the attention of a target audience.

Amazon has successfully used selective perception in tandem with Big Data to recommend items that its customers might want. Sridharan commented that not many other e-commerce retailers have leveraged selective perception and Big Data because to do so requires certain expertise. “Though the concept of selective perceptive marketing is well known to experienced marketers, the emergence of Big Data has provided them with tools to capture and leverage information for marketing purposes,” he said. “This, implicitly, assumes deep know-how of information technology tools, methodologies, processes and frameworks. Most marketers are presently exploring these dimensions.”

In addition, utilizing selective perception with Big Data technology necessitates taking great care with customer data. “Despite the benefits Big Data and selective perception marketing bestows upon customers, you are making use of very ‘personal’ behavioral information,” Sridharan remarked. Amazon, for example, takes what he calls “digital exhaust” – customer behaviour on the site such as their clicking through items and how much time they spend looking at a product – to customize recommendations. “Leveraging digital exhaust is received by different people differently, so marketers are addressing this aspect with extreme sensitivity and forethought, so as to not impair their brand image, which takes a long time to build and only a faux pas to destroy,” Sridharan added. “This is what I’d cite as the primary reason why e-commerce retailers are viewing these concepts with a healthy dose of skepticism and consideration.”

Many customers feel disturbed that marketers can gather so much information about them. Sridharan believes that if marketers could clearly and transparently demonstrate the benefits to consumers, they would feel less uncomfortable. “Big Data is a new technology and as with any new concept or technology, customer education is an important component of the marketing process,” he said. Conversely, opacity will hurt the company. “Failing to disclose how information is aggregated, to what purpose the data is used, how the data is stored and eventually disposed of will scare customers off,” Sridharan warned.

Another barrier to utilizing selective perception marketing in concert with Big Data is the technical nature of analytics. “Big Data has, so far, been a concept nurtured by IT departments,” Sridharan commented. Implementing analytics solutions requires specific skill sets such as data science and statistical modeling, which many marketers do not possess. However, he sees this obstacle as temporary. “Many marketers and marketing positions demand these skills, so it’s only a matter of time before marketing and IT functions converge and interact seamlessly,” Sridharan asserted.

The partnership of Big Data and selective perception can also be applied to other verticals. “Depending on what your customers or employees want, you could harness Big Data to design good incentive structures,” Sridharan remarked. He gave the example of an energy company. Analytics can help the utility firm to determine customers’ peak electricity usage. Offering incentives to use major appliances in the evening or on weekends will cause a shift in energy consumption patterns, putting less of a burden on the environment.

Sridharan concluded with a quote from the American management consultant Peter Drucker: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Selective perception and Big Data is the key to helping products or services sell themselves.

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