Don’t stop chasing data

20. September 2019

Don’t stop chasing data

“We must stop chasing data – we’re all the same. One-to-one marketing is a waste of money.” That is what Alice Monberg, a respected Danish marketing director, formerly of one of the largest supermarket chains, wrote. Alice is respected by the industry for good reason, and I do agree with some of her points, but I’d just like to note that my clients, my clients’ clients, and not least my research experience shows otherwise.


Her main point is that we Danes are all the same and are therefore similar as consumers. Hence the point that it is not at all necessary to collect data at the individual level; rather, historical sales figures and common sense are enough and should form the basis of mass communication.

According to Alice Monberg, collecting data about customers is a “circus”. Well, call me ringmaster, because I work purposefully to create synergy between data, technology and creativity. The focal point is always data, because I believe it is an invaluable tool for creating relevance and value for the recipient.

Find the balance

For Alice Monberg, it’s a question of either/or. But just as I believe that we, as consumers, are different, I also believe that our marketing needs to be different. It’s not about becoming fixated on marketing trends, but about finding the balance between mass communication and 1:1 marketing.

Because of course both have their merits and clear advantages. But there is a difference between building an annual cycle based on historical data from the food industry to find that we always buy duck for Christmas and crisps at the weekend and having to sell insurance, expensive handbags or cars. In these cases the customer journey is not just from a newspaper offer or a television commercial to the local supermarket. The customer journey is influenced much more by information retrieval and active use of various media.

Yes, maybe we often end up buying the black car, but black cars are not by the same brand and we do not buy them at the same time or for the same reasons. So it’s this particular data that helps us to find out exactly which black car the consumer is in the market for.

A waste of time

In my opinion, discussing whether or not we should collect data is a waste of time. Instead, we should discuss how we can become better at utilising the data we have. For example, it never ceases to amaze me that I receive exactly the same newsletters as my teenage daughter. Because although we live under the same roof and share the same DNA, we are at vastly different places in our lives and have different needs and equally different media habits.

That doesn’t mean that we should collect individual data at any price, simply because it’s technically possible to do so. But if there is an exchange by which I, as a consumer, provide data about myself and my behaviour in return for being notified when my favourite film premieres on Netflix, isn’t that worth agreeing to? It saves me time and resources, letting me avoid sifting through vast amounts of content to find what I think is relevant to me.

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