Your Customers Are More Than a Stereotype

In 2000, data experts conducted the very first study to quantify the amount of original user information created worldwide over the course of a year in “computer terms.” The study showed that over the course of 1999, the world produced 1.5 exabytes of unique data (Forbes). Fast-forward 13 years, and experts determined that, over the course of 2012, 2.5 exabytes of data were created each day (HBR).

Before the days when consumers sent over 100K tweets and conducted over 2M Google searches per minute (Domo), brands often relied on mass third-party data and retargeting techniques to fill in the data gaps and more effectively reach their audience at large. For example, back in the 90s, a sports retailer probably would have considered it a much safer and more effective bet, based on overarching 3rd party insights, to focus all their attention on a male demographic.

But with the rise of social networks and exponential increase of big data, there’s hardly need for modern marketers to make “educated” assumptions about customers. As connected consumers share more personal information and interact directly with brands in real-time, they demand more relevant and timely user experiences in return, with 79% agreeing that their relationships with brands are more personal than ever before ( and Latitude). And as our most recent social identity data infographic reveals, that sports retailer would have been mighty disappointed had it tried to run a male-focused March Madness campaign –  the vast majority of Kentucky Wildcats fans are female!

Here’s how successful brands are moving beyond consumer stereotypes to establish more authentic, one-to-one relationships with their customers.

Leveraging Login Data

According to Steve’s 3rd-party data profile, Steve is a 32-year-old male. He has been browsing briefcases on high-end retail sites over the past several weeks, and frequently reads Business Insider. However, were marketers to try to reach Steve with information about a tuxedo sale or a subscription to Harvard Business Review, they wouldn’t have much success, because Steve is a stay-at-home dad, and his business professional wife likes to borrow his laptop.

Most 3rd party data collection techniques, like cookies, track consumers as they move across the Internet on a given device. While this provides some limited insight around consumer behavior, it does nothing to help brands know who their customers actually are and the interests and motives driving these behaviors. Without an understanding of consumer identity, brands are unable to reach customers with the types of relevant and timely messages and experiences that build lasting relationships.

Today, innovative brands are placing increasing emphasis on collecting and analyzing their own first-party login data to gain a more current, accurate and identity-centric view of consumers. Login data enables brands to tie all consumer activity back to a single user profile across channels and devices. By giving users the option to login using their existing social identities, brands can gain permission-based access to the insights housed in their social profiles, including their locations, relationships, hobbies, media preferences and more.

Personalizing User Experiences

With insight into user identity, marketers can effectively move beyond 3rd party assumptions and consumer stereotypes. Access to the rich information within users’ social graphs allows brands to foster 1:1 consumer relationships by reaching them with relevant messages at the most opportune moments. Not only does this level of personalization drive customer acquisition and conversion rates in today’s sea of competition, but it also grows customer loyalty and retention. 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to create more relevant experiences (Digital Trends).

Need a real-world example? Culinary king McCormick establishes user identity by allowing site visitors to login using their social media accounts. It is then able to tie all on-site activity, like social shares and favorites, to a single user profile to help build out a user’s unique “Flavor Print,” or taste profile, which is then used to recommend recipes she may like.

Luxury retailer Kate Spade also leverages social identity and data across channels to create highly relevant user experiences. When consumers login socially to, they are greeted by name and with product recommendations based on the weather forecast in their current locations. Users are given personal profiles where they can collect points toward free merchandise based on their individual on-site actions, such as liking an item or leaving a comment. Finally, when a user abandons cart, Kate Spade reaches back out with an email featuring an exclusive discount.

3rd-party data was made for a time when consumer stereotypes were marketers’ best guess. It’s time for marketers to stop assuming and start building authentic, personal customer experiences and relationships with permission-based social identity data.

For more information on how to effectively overcome consumer stereotypes and harness social identity data, download Making Sense of Consumer Data: A Guide to Responsible Data Collection and Application.


By Rachel Serpa