Brands As Filters, Not Curators

For the next generation of consumers, brands will serve as filters, not curators. 

I sat through session after session at SXSW Interactive on how different brands are going about tackling the problem of making things relevant for consumers. 

You may be thinking that curating and filtering sound awfully similar, but they are drastically different concepts. Instead of trying to profile a general target consumer and create a relevant experience for that fictional person, brands are treating each consumer as unique and using data scientists and technology to make super-relevant recommendations. 

Even more interesting is how different products are going about filtering. 

Filtering Relationships Path founder Dave Morin talked about filtering in terms of filtering the relationships you have with people on social networks down to the core relationships of your life. These core relationships bring the most happiness, so Path filters out the relationships you have with that random person you friended on Facebook in college and never talk to by limiting the amount of connections you can have on the platform to 150.  



Filtering Search Google’s approach to filtering is much bigger -- and much scarier to many people. Google’s lead for Google+, Vic Gundotra, talked about the search giant’s latest attempt at social and described it in terms of a social layer that will help a vegetarian surface vegetarian restaurants, weeding out the steakhouse when they search for a place for dinner.

Filtering Recommendations With the caveat of needing mobile phone batteries with more capacity so its Radar functionality can be “always on,” Foursquare is always advancing its engine that recommends a place you are near at that time based on past check-ins, where your friends have checked in and what is popular in that area at the time. 

Filtering Health What does it mean to be active? Nike is trying to make it simpler to understand for everyone. Instead of focusing on calories or steps, Nike came up with a new measure called Fuel for its innovative Nike Fuelband. You can still easily access the other metrics, but Fuel allows you to track your daily activity through the Band by filtering out all of the various results and focusing on one all-encompassing metric that works across most activities. 

The next set of core consumers -- Gen Y and beyond -- will become used to brands using their data to provide a better, more intuitive user experience. Marketers now have to figure out how to best use the data at their fingertips to provide a customized, filtered experience for consumers.  

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