(Image source: The Game Changers)

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How will the growth in technology and the rise of data available to both businesses and consumers impact our B2C relationships?  It’s a question that will define the future of our industry.

For Data Innovation Day today, DMA hosted an impressive group of data-driven marketers to answer this vital question, and discuss the emerging concept of the “data-driven consumer.”  In a presentation titled “Turning the Tables: The Age of Data-Driven Consumerism,” marketers representing a range of companies and industries — from search, to tourism, and even financial services — spoke to both the opportunities and challenges facing data-driven marketers with this shift in decision-making on the part of consumers.  With consumers currently better educated, better informed and more engaged, the pressure has never been higher for marketers to determine their needs and meet (or hopefully exceed!) their expectations.

One key example to highlight this shift was offered by Joelle Tramel, Global Insights Strategy Lead at Google.  She noted that the average search term has grown from 2 or 3 words to now 8 or more words.  Today’s consumers, she said, know what information they’re looking for, and they know how to track it down.

Consumers also have the patience to make an informed decision.  Amy Radin, Founder and Co-Author of The Huffington Post’s The Daily Innovator column, noted that in her sector (financial services) the average customer will consult more than 10 sources before making a decision.

It was also highlighted that the relationship between a brand and its customers has been drastically altered and made more personal.  A key metaphor was offered by Arun Kumar, Group Director at Razorfish.  In the past, he explained, a CEO would speak to the crowd from a stage, through a loudspeaker.  Today, with the rise in data available to consumers, it’s as if the CEO were standing in a crowd speaking one-on-one with each member of his audience.

The group agreed that this strong shift in power towards consumers is not a bad thing.  Rather it presents an opportunity to businesses and data-driven marketers to communicate relevant, efficient, and timely information to their customers.

One final point was made by Arun Kumar, who urged attendees to remember, that at the end of the day, there is always a real person at the end of the communication. That’s our goal as marketers: to find this person, determine their needs, and present them with a relevant offer. With the rise in data available to consumers, they also have the power to find what they need, quite often at their fingertips and on-the-go.

This growth in technology and data has brought us closer to our customers, and that’s a good thing for us all.

If you missed this presentation, visit DMA’s YouTube page for a full recording of the session.