In the chase to optimize (and keep optimizing) sales, brands are missing out on the real benefit of data intelligence. Brands could use their customer relationships not only to make money, but also to help customers become better, smarter, healthier versions of themselves at the same time. Can data be both a force for business growth and a force for good? I believe so, if brands focus on both acts of purchase and acts of purpose.
Brands and marketers do a great job of optimizing data to use it to their advantage. We have used data to subcategorize, personalize, and commercialize, but it absolutely can (and should) do more.
We can look at the data so it’s not just transactional. Let’s imagine how much better we all could be as people if we used the data at our fingertips to empathize, humanize, and revolutionize instead. We could optimize individuals as well as the data we gather from them, using the information we’ve accrued to make suggestions, offer products, and target services that would make their lives better. We could change data’s remit for everyone’s self-interest.
For example, what if a credit card company offered financial education and debt assistance in addition to pushing the latest line of credit on customers? Most Americans are debt-laden and couldn’t come up with $1,000 in a financial emergency, according to a Bankrate study. Instead of selling these customers another credit card at that moment, companies could use the data to give customers an honest education on managing their cash flow based on all they know about those customers and their financial habits.
What if a pharmaceutical company endeavored to combine its breakthrough medications with real and tangible help to get people to build and maintain healthier habits and lifestyles? The company could accompany a pill with a personalized plan, based on the patient’s data, to keep the patient on track.
What if brands fulfilled their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals by using their data to zero in on financially or emotionally struggling groups, so they could meet customers’ needs more equitably? The data we have access to allows us to be the customer- and patient-centric companies we claim to be reaching toward.
When we talk about purpose-led brands being more purposeful, that begins with a more purposeful use of available data to help customers be healthier versions of themselves, make better decisions, and lead more rewarding lives. That is what forges connections between a customer and a brand. If a brand helps empower me, that selflessness forges a stronger relationship with me by prioritizing my well-being — as well as theirs.
It’s the melding between acts of purchase and acts of purpose. Profits and societal progress aren’t mutually exclusive; rather, they can go hand in hand. Imaginative use of data will help us get there.