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The consumer's perspective
HDFC Life's senior EVP Sanjay Tripathy reviews Martin Lindstrom's book 'Small Data'

Sanjay Tripathy

The focus on ‘big data’ has gradually taken maniacal proportions across the world, with everybody analysing everything. Disrupting this chaos of big data and all the hoopla surrounding it, Martin Lindstrom is out with his latest book - Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends.

In their hurry to focus on big data, organisations across the world have ignored the importance of that basic tenet of any type of marketing – customer’s perspective. This is the small data Lindstrom is talking about. It’s a simple theory really – as a marketer, you need to focus on real people leading real lives. This observation of the real world, when aggregated, can lead to powerful results.

As a marketing consultant for top firms across the world, Lindstrom does not go and give speeches. He visits customers in their own surroundings in an effort to understand them better. And he uses this ‘small data’ to understand how his clients can serve their customers better. In this book, he gives a few real-life examples to explain his theory and demonstrate how ‘small data’ can change companies forever.

One such example is that of Lego. The big data researchers concluded that in this day and age of low patience levels and instant gratification, children just did not have the perseverance needed to build a complex Lego. Thus the company started creating simpler designs with bigger bricks, to no avail. After years of plummeting sales, a chance visit to a particular customer’s home led the research team to understand that today’s children do have the requisite perseverance – they just need a challenge that’s tough enough. Lego bricks got smaller, the models got tougher, and Lego saw a surge like never before.

‘Small data’ is filled with such stories of insights that look accidental, but are actually a result of keen observation and deep research; stories from India to Russia to Saudi Arabia— stories that show how his knowledge of consumer buying, along with this insight, helped him to create theories and build businesses. The objective of this book is to help readers understand that our shopping behavior cannot be understood only by ‘Big data’. The complexities of small and big data together are what drive consumers and organisations need to understand this, in order to move ahead.

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