This is one of my favorite stories about data mining. Although there’s probably a certain degree of urban myth to it, it’s still a case worth sharing.
As the story goes, Wall Mart while doing an exercise in data mining, compared data from their loyalty card scheme with data from their point of sale systems. In doing this they found an interesting opportunity to connect sales of two seemingly completely unrelated items. One was beer and the other was diapers.
Men are often sent to the supermarket to shop for their baby before the weekend, and a natural product to market to men, is beer. Because of this finding, Wall Mart experimented with moving part of the beer section up next to the diaper section. The result was reportedly a big boost in beer sales.
Here are four questions to ask yourself:
- Does your company collect all relevant data?
- Does the marketing department have access to it?
- Do you use the data and compare data sets?
- What do you do with the findings?
I find that many companies aren’t really sure who are buying their products. You may be targeting a special market and segment, but do you have solid data to back up whether they end up being the primary customer, or if your products are actually purchased by someone else?
Some years ago LEGO found out that more than a quarter of their main products were purchased by adults, for adults, rather than for kids. Imagine what that did to the way they approached their marketing!