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Idealog® is a monthly “hot take” on the topics of branding, business and culture. Eidos® is a monthly deep-dive into persistent brand challenges and solutions.

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Tracking Shoppers

With a slow start to the traditionally vigorous Holiday consumer spending season, several brands are distinguishing themselves by offering less, not more. Big Data helps it make retail sense.

As we gear up for the Thanksgiving-Christmas retail season, several brands are touting their differences by not doing what their competitors are doing. Starbucks, perhaps unintentionally, drew bizarre criticism (and tons of publicity) for a plain red seasonal cup with no Christmas-related symbols. But others are actually turning business away, not only on Thanksgiving, but Black Friday too—a retail red-letter day for most. Nordstrom, Staples and H&M are among the stores staying shut on Thanksgiving. REI will also close Black Friday, offering an #optoutdoors hashtag instead. Other major stores, such as Amazon, Target and Walmart, are de-emphasizing the Black Friday feeding frenzy, spreading sales over a longer period.

Until recently, investors and customers might have been justified in reacting like Scrooge over such a move. But this New York brand management agency believes that Big Data is changing the game. As consumers push e-commerce up to 7.4% of all consumer spending, Big Data has penetrated so deep into retail, it’s now possible to correctly predict whether customers really do want just one Burberry line, or to skip the sales line to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, or spend Black Friday outdoors rather than jostling at the mall. In this madly uncertain season, it’s time to boost your brand by getting crystal clear about what your customers do and don’t want for Black Friday and the holidays.

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