The Business Case for Comparing Apples to Oranges

If you spend enough time looking at enough data, you’ll realize that correlations tend to fall into three categories:

  1. 1. The obviously useful, i.e., you’re a pizza maker who has seen your share of the market fall as a new competitor’s share has risen.
  2. 2. The dubious, i.e, when trying to find a way to overcome that share decline, you discover a near perfect correlation between increases in mozzarella consumption and increases in the number of civil engineering doctorates.
  3. 3. The seemingly dubious but actually quite useful, i.e, you’re a pizza maker who finds that your customers prefer Android phones to iPhones.

Finding the business value in that last category is not an easy proposition, however. It requires a bit of imagination and a bit of commitment. You have to look beyond the immediate -- wow, that’s kind of cool! -- to see what it might mean for your business -- wait, I can use that!

So let’s look at the business cases for unusual correlations.

CNBC published an article recently that used data from The NPD Group to look at what consumers’ phone operating systems said about their food choices. That article generated a fair amount of attention across social media. You may have come across it yourself on Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere. If not, take a moment to read “What your smartphone says about your waistline” now.

As the article says, new Checkout Tracking℠ data from The NPD Group shows a slew of surprising links between food preferences and cellphones. Folks who carry iPhones are more likely to eat soup and drink smoothies. Android users over-index for roast beef sandwiches and pizza (which is not to say that those over-indexers overeat. Who are we to judge?)

The correlations also extend to restaurant preferences. IPhone users can be found at Panera; Android users are over at Hardee’s.

So if you work in the IT department at one of the restaurant chains mentioned in the CNBC article, you now know exactly which phone system to prioritize in your app development.

But if you work anywhere else, it may not be immediately apparent what the business uses of such cool correlations may be….until you look deeper.

Hidden in plain sight

Checkout Tracking data is based on the millions of receipts sent to us and our technology partner, Slice Intelligence, by consumers. Those receipts yield detailed, item-level data about individual consumers across stores, across all retail segments, covering both online and brick and mortar, and over time.

Just think about that for a second: transaction-level detail across all retailers, across all channels and all time, at the individual buyer level.

Checkout Tracking can tell retailers what their most loyal customers do after they left their store. It can tell manufacturers what else customers bought when they picked up their product at a retailer. So let’s look at just a few of the less-than-obvious applications.

  • If you know what products customers bundle together at checkout, you can maximize the value of each customer visit
  • If you can see what percentage of your customers’ wallets are captured by others, you can determine your true competitive set and develop plans to boost your share of wallet
  • If you can learn what’s really lifting sales (penetration? frequency? purchase size?) you can spend your marketing dollars where they’ll count

Checkout Tracking yields loads of such fascinating correlations and less-than-obvious business applications. In addition to food, NPD tracks 20 other industries, including games. Here are a few correlations from the uber-hot category of Millennial gamers:

  • Male Millennial mobile games buyers spend more of their dollars on Uber and Apple.com. They also spend more online dollars on Travel and Movies and TV.
  • Female Millennial mobile games buyers spend more of their dollars on Groupon. And they spend more online dollars on pet supplies and online deals.

Data like that suggests, for example, that the best way to reach female gamers may be through online deal sites. Or if you own a pet store, you may want to consider in-game advertising.

If you’d like to know more about how Checkout Tracking would work for your business, fill out the form to the right.



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