Think about targeting people under 25. As you ponder this, certain images come to mind, like a young person holding a smartphone -- or a bunch of them smiling, as if in a stock photo, some bearded, others wearing flannel.
As a composite sketch, this image is pretty useless. But as a marketer, it may be more than that. Generalizations like that can reinforce stereotypes that encourage costly mistakes. For instance, although animal rights is a top-of-mind issue for English-speaking late millennials, it’s an issue that hardly comes up for French- and Chinese-speaking millennials.
Such is the thinking behind zero-party data, which Forrester defines as data that a customer “intentionally and proactively shares with a brand.” Proponents say using such data can avoid leading marketers to make destructive assumptions based on generalizations.
Rather than generalize, marketers seeking zero-party data do their own research. For instance, Yelp asks its users to provide granular details about their dining habits in its app preference center. Tide asks similar questions as users opt in to find the best Tide product for their laundry needs.
Unlike first-party data, which can only offer inferred insights, zero-party data is direct from the consumer. That doesn’t mean that you’re getting pure, undistilled data -- consumers can still withhold their real tastes for whatever reason -- but it will probably give you better data than the type you cull from suppositions about individuals based on sketchy information.