From Data to Insight: Measuring the Warmth of a Smile

08.15.17 / Retail Voodoo Alumni

As a brand owner, it’s no secret you’ve been entrusted with your company’s most valuable asset: your brand. Data plays a significant role in your drive to understand your most valued customer, what they care about, and how to convert them into loyal fans. It’s also no secret that data alone does not equal knowledge, and data is only valuable if it can be translated into measurable and actionable insights. We seek the kind of insights that give you a chill knowing you just found the proverbial needle in the haystack. Revealing a key insight is hard and requires substantial empathy. Chris Hart put it best when he said, “All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile.”

We can think of data as a recipe. Anyone can put ingredients together and cook a meal. However, only a chef that can create an original recipe, tell you where to get the right ingredients and tools, or know how to modify a recipe based off their experience, even how to garnish and plate it. Not everyone can do that – it takes a lot of experience and a bit of magic. This is the same with data. All that information doesn’t make sense unless you know what you need, what you’re looking for, where to find it, and have the expertise to identify it.

The Shiny and New Data

We’ve seen plenty of marketing experts choose the color blue because it was on trend. Alright, that’s a bit of an over-simplification, but let’s look at Sears as an example. They are brand that has been around for years and is trusted by blue collar, suburban families to help them live the American dream by selling trusted durable brands at a fair price. Did you know that at one point, someone in the organization decided that they should sell luxury handbags on their website? Yes, that’s right – they were selling Gucci, Prada and other designer labels. Why would they do this? Well, because at the time, luxury brand sales were surging and Sears was desperate to regain their brand strength. Without looking at the data that supported their core audience and what was important to them, they chose to look at other data that was “shiny and new.” As a result, they further alienated this core audience, and were unable to woo the customer they thought they could attract.

Measuring the Warmth of a Smile

So, here’s the rub: Data is processed through a highly-contextualized lens by the person looking at it. Using the same data-set, different people can come to different conclusions based on shared history, context or other predispositions – just like our Sears example. Revealing and measuring the “warmth of a smile” is where the art and the science of interpretation becomes critical.

Here's how we do it.....

We start with the basic premise that true, game-changing interpretation of data often only reveals itself by going deep (as opposed to wide). It’s not because we don't also cast a wide net, it’s because the Retail Voodoo way requires that the data either be insightful and useful in our quest to help our client’s transformation, or it’s fire insurance. Founder David Lemley often says, “We have climbed off hundreds of mountains of data in the food, beverage, wellness and outdoor fitness worlds. This has helped us see our role as detective and translator using a sixth sense about what will provide meaningful insight to our client’s particular challenge.”

Turning Raw Data into Insight

Raw data comes in a myriad of shapes, sizes and sources. Parsing through it to find the magic can be daunting, so we start by asking the following questions:

  1. What problems are we trying to answer?
  2. What are the best research tools for answering these questions?
  3. How will answers to these questions further our client’s stated goals and success metrics?
  4. What is the cultural context that our client’s brand lives within?
  5. How can we leverage data to create meaningful consumer connections?
  6. Who is translating your data
  7. What is your data telling you?

Once you dig deep to answer these questions, you’ll understand the magic of extracting insights from data. You’ll find meaningfully different information that will drive concrete financial and cultural results for your brand.

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