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A New Era of Cool: Statisticians as Heroes
Written by Betsy
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 14:45

The consumer research world is abuzz with the attention suddenly paid to the "unsung heroes" among us: Statisticians. For centuries, the secret to actionable data has been the math that goes on behind it. At face value, a number may be a number, but with thoughtful and proven formulas suddenly numbers tell compelling stories, and this has become increasingly valid with global commerce moving at warp speed. In a New York Times article entitled “How Companies Learn Your Secrets” explores the role of predictive analytics in retailing and branding; explaining how somewhat of a backroom science has become a must for companies seriously trying to understand consumer behavior.

The Times article makes for an intriguing conversation piece with statistics given its proper due and invites a closer look at statistics as a consumer research tool, and more specifically, at predictive analytics as a means of understanding behavior patterns. Predictive analytics is big business indeed, with global educational events for professionals covering such topics as consumer profiling and cloning, acquisition of high-value customers, online marketing optimization and customer retention. Want to understand which consumers are getting the most out of your sunscreen ad campaign based shopping patterns? Looking for clues as to whether a female consumer might be pregnant – at which point it is open season for new brands and new purchasing behavior overall – before she even announces it to the world? Consumption data can tell us these things, among many others. Moreover, targeted consumer research, whether quantitative or qualitative, can further validate what the raw numbers are telling us. Statistics itself is by no means new, but the interest level is. Firstly, statisticians are in increasingly high demand, with a PhD in math suddenly opening a world of new career opportunities. Speaking from experience, Kairos Consumer employs several statisticians from both the academic world and business worlds on a project-by-project basis and must give weeks of advance notice for even short-term assignments. These professionals are clearly in high demand. Additionally, other rungs in the research ladder – such as marketers and managers – that have traditionally touched the data only as a pretty package upon completion of a project are suddenly rolling up their sleeves, eager to understand the process for the efficiency it may bring to all facets of decision-making. Whether or not we have reams of data or just a few pieces, the statistician is our savior, now more than ever.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 20:31