Can data help us predict the future of business?

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Can data help us predict the future of business?
Can data help us predict the future of business?

When Starbucks launches a new Frappucino flavor, does the company just cross their fingers and hope that it does well? Absolutely not. There are months of screening, focus groups and market research conducted. Consumer data and analysis is invaluable to a marketer and is frequently overlooked when compiling a product launch arsenal.

Here is another example. A pan-European company recently launched a new child's pushchair. Consumer data on preferred style, usability, size, weight and even color were carefully analyzed to ensure that, two years down the design path, the product coincided with customer needs and desires. Knowing this data is invaluable to a product's successful launch and subsequent longevity in its marketplace. A commonly overlooked way to obtain this valuable data is surprising to some: data lists.

Consumer trends and resulting data are the lifeblood of many companies vying for that top spot in their industry. Consumer trends, buying patterns and geographical rankings of affluence are big business and they hit the news on a regular basis. Consumer data is about understanding what consumers are doing now and what they'll be doing next year, and that's a long-accepted approach. So when it comes to business data, why do we still talk about lists?

There is a growing trend for companies to view business data as a resource that they can manipulate, analyze and use as a barometer of present and future business activity, rather than merely a prospecting list. Having access to the universe of business information enables companies to be analytical about the size of any given market and which sectors they should target. How do you get started?

Tap into what you already have. Chances are your in-house data is pretty good based on consumer purchasing records. Check into trends such as seasonality, purchase patterns and past product releases. By looking through historical data you can predict future trends.

Start keeping track. If you don't have a program in place to start collecting data, make sure to start. From focus groups to exit surveys, capturing vital consumer data will help you make future business decisions on new product offerings and market timing.

Partner with data holders. The businesses that partner with data holders not only have access to a much greater range of prospects; they also have the ability to see into the future of the business marketplace, and to tailor their offering to suit. Partnering with information holders, using constant updates and their own CRM systems to continually enhance the data will put your company at the forefront of data mining.  

Next time your company is in the product launch process or if you are a marketing company hired to launch for a client, consider the old fashioned data list as one of your best sources of market information.

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