The truth about data

Catherine Zaharias
By Catherine Zaharias | 11 September 2020

Catherine Zaharias is senior marketing and communications manager at Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand.

Being data-driven is crucial to staying relevant in today’s cluttered marketing landscape but according to the 2019 Hays Job Report the shift in focus to data marketing has created a skills gap in the industry, with many marketers appearing to lack the skills required to perform digital functions.

It seems just because we’re data rich, it doesn’t mean we know what to do with it and growing consumer demands and employer expectations are only feeding that divide as marketers face the overwhelming pressure to comprehend and apply sophisticated and complex martech in order to deliver innovative, customer centric, and commercially gratuitous activity.

However, emotion is the predominant driver of decision making and while data certainly allows us to quickly and efficiently send and receive information it takes more than just statistics to meaningfully engage an audience and grow a brand.

To translate data into meaningful action requires the ability to glean understanding and insight from information and this is a competitive advantage marketers have over martech.

And as consumer’s expectations of brands to play bigger roles in societal change grow, now more than ever insight is playing a vital role in marketing strategy.

In 2004, Dove launched its iconic Real Beauty campaign after discovering that just “2% of women considered themselves beautiful”. Rather than reacting to this insight with a product campaign promising to make women appear more beautiful, Dove delved deeper and discovered the unrealistic portrayal of beauty in media was contributing to why women were feeling this way and in fact, the real need was to redefine beauty.

By taking the time to look at the data in context, Dove unveiled a universal truth among women that led to a seismic shift for the brand. Switching to customer centricity and purpose-led marketing that aimed “to make women feel comfortable in their skin and to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety” enabled Dove to truly connect with its audience and shift perception around its ability to relate to them. The campaign earned Dove the top spot in its category and generated $2BN in revenue in the first 3 years of inception.

While this campaign was developed nearly 20 years ago, the sentiment and brand remain more relevant than ever today and Dove still scores among the top 10% when it comes to customer obsession.

This campaign demonstrates that grounding a brand strategy in consumer insight more universal than a single data point or product, provides endless scope for reinvention and engagement.

Leading with insights enables marketers to become unreservedly customer centric and irrespective of their banality, insights often lead to the most memorable campaigns due to their broad relatedness.

Operating from a place of universal truth removes unconscious bias and subjectivity and allows marketers to discover what’s truly important to customers providing guidance on how to best create contextual brand relevance.

Long term, a brand strategy fueled by insights will lead to greater loyalty which ultimately improves profitability, ticking that commercial box too.

So while the data states that marketers are falling short of their duties, its pays to contextualize this finding as simply a perception that needs to be shifted.

Irrespective of their formal training, marketers have always had the in-built tools required to create innovative, customer centric strategies they now just have the luxury of substantiating their gut-feelings with comprehensive data.

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