Published on: March 3, 2016
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
A friend of mine emailed me the other day with a link to a column posted on LinkedIn by branding expert Martin Lindstrom that focused on Walmart's recent problems.
He writes that Walmart blames its poor recent performances on increased wages and tougher competition, especially from Amazon ... but Lindstrom also says that "the real answer to Walmart’s big problem is so small that they have never noticed it."
Here, Lindstrom points to Walmart's increasing reliance on "Big Data" as the problem ... and suggests what the company really needs to do is focus on "Small Data." (Which makes sense, since he has just published a book entitled "Small Data.")
Small Data, as he defines it, can only be obtained by "spending time in real consumers’ homes, embedding themselves into local communities and converting their locations into vibrant community stores." Retailers that see the world through the eyes of the customer - and he includes Lowes Foods, Wegmans, and Eataly among them - have the best potential of being breakout winners in the new world order, especially when they can figure out where and when Big Data and Small Data overlap.
I mostly agree with Lindstrom on this. (Not that he cares whether I do or not.) For me, it is all about two things - having actionable data, and then actually acting on it. And what I would argue is that there is a vast chasm between data and story ... and it is in traversing that gap that businesses really can be successful.
One piece of relevant, customer-centric data that is acted upon by a retailer or supplier is far more valuable than thousands of pieces of data that fill up disk space but never are utilized. Business leaders have to make that commitment, challenging everyone in the organization not just to come up with information about how customers shop and consume, but how they are going to use that information to affect their behavior. Information can be a data point ... it also can be something sharply observed. Technology is great ... but one's eyes and ears also can be amazing tools.
Done right, information can be compiled into a story ... or rather, multiple stories that tell us something important about shoppers, and that can be addressed when retailers create their own narrative ... by which I mean stores that tell a compelling and relevant story to consumers.
Big data is fine. Small data is cool. But data converted into story ... that's really where the rubber meets the road.
That's what's on my mind this Thursday morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: