Know Me.

I buy many of my clothes for work and presentations from Banana Republic. Their shirts fit me very well and they always have a great selection of patterns and colors. I love their items so much that I agreed to sign up for their "email newsletter" while checking out one day.

But recently I have thought about turning this e-mail off.  You see, the problem is that their communications are only relevant to me and my needs once every week or two, even though I think I receive something from them almost daily.

The mistake Banana Republic has made is they haven’t set up their system to allow me to tell them my preferences for what I want to hear about.  And because they don’t have this information, they don't understand "why" I really shop with them - for clothes that I will wear to work or when I am speaking - so they end up sending me irrelevant messages that just fill up my already overflowing email inbox.

In my work with companies to understand their consumer groups, I often point out the ways these companies can tap into the information they are collecting on their consumers to market most effectively to them.  Using a centralized collection of consumers’ preferences is a great way to accomplish this goal.

The trick is to make sure preferences are collected in a granular fashion. By analyzing this preference data, your company can gain valuable insight into who your consumers are, why they buy from you and what will be most relevant moving forward.

I would gladly tell Banana Republic what items I am interested in so they could send me only relevant offers.

Preference data serves as one of the first true lenses that can be used to find patterns in the "big data" being collected.  After all, isn't the effort around big data to help you market more effectively to your different customer types?  What better way is there to unlock the value of what you are collecting than comparing it to self-reported information provided directly by your consumers.




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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