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Creatures of Habit
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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When our audience becomes habitual consumers, it is a beautiful thing. We can learn so much from them: how often they come back for more products and services, when questions or concerns usually arise, and how they best receive information from us. When we are looking to break a habit, like attracting a different audience to try our product or service, the task is quite daunting.

Humans are naturally creatures of habit. We feel comfortable in knowing exactly what we are doing, and exactly what the outcome is going to be based on our actions. So when we examine how consumers behave, it is crucial to know where the consumer is in the habit cycle, and that will determine how we create an effective advertising strategy.

Esteban Moro of UC3M recently conducted a study that looked at how we can predict the purchasing habits of consumers. They used data from hundreds of thousands of transactions from the U.S. and Europe, and from dissecting information (de-identified) from over 50 million credit card accounts.

The results were promising.

Moro and his team concluded that it is difficult to predict consumer behavior in a short time span. However, based on the information they gathered, it is reasonable for organizations to use the data they gather and predict consumer purchases in the long term, and that they can reasonably predict, overall, the frequency one will return to a favorite shop.

The study also suggests that why marketers look into geomarketing and point-of-sale activities so closely.

The study's only real downfall is that it only examined economic transactions done with credit cards. It would be very interesting to see data with cash transactions as well (since those consumers who use cash feel the "pain of paying" much more than those who don't) and see if there was a substantial difference in consumption. We would argue that there would be a difference.

So what does this mean? We would take it to mean that Big Data is not suitable for the "quick fix;" that those C-Suite members who are looking at Big Data and making changes on a whim really need to step back and really analyze. Marketing and advertising, whether it's creative or analytical, need time in order to make good decisions.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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