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CAN DATA HELP US PREDICT THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
By Per Löfgren, Director, EuroContactPool

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 the colour 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. It’s never a surprise to us that this information is available, or that someone has taken the time to analyze it. 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’?

Across Europe, the US and Canada, 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. Swedish Post, for example, buys bulk business data, updated every month, purely to analyse movement in the business market place. Other companies are utilizing the availability of business data to offer their own services, such as online business directories.

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. This has always been the case with consumer data; it would take a brave individual to predict consumer spending patterns. Yet when it comes to business prospects, selections have so often been made on ‘gut feeling’ or a personal interpretation of the profile of potential customers.

The need to get access to information on which to base business decisions is growing. The organizations at the forefront of the data revolution are already partnering with information holders, using constant updates and their own CRM systems to continually enhance the data. At present, the demand for bulk business data is from large organizations that have the resources to deploy skilled people to analyze it for their needs, but in the future the resource – and the ability to use it – will move to small- and medium-sized businesses.

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. So 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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About Per Löfgren
Per is an International B2B Marketing, Direct Marketing and CRM specialist. Currently with PAR, a Swedish Direct Marketing firm, he serves as the Director for EuroContactPool, a pan-European b-to-b contact database. He has been with the company since 2004 and has been instrumental in the launch of many of the company’s initiatives.

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