What’s one of the highlights of the holiday season? Shopping, of course! In urban areas, malls seem to be the new mantra – springing up everywhere, offering unbelievable discounts, and luring more customers than ever. In addition, there is a plethora of e-commerce sites that allow consumers to shop without ever having to leave home. This really is the era of the consumer!
An interesting fall out of this trend is that the consumer is no longer dependent on the brand telling them their product is the best. Blogs, online forums, and other social media channels are teeming with product reviews, information on discount sales, and reactions from consumers. Mining this information – also known as Big Data – can prove to be extremely beneficial to businesses to help them predict trends and future consumer actions. Big Data is emerging as the world’s newest resource for competitive advantage and insights from analytics is the key to making sense of it. Using this data, quick insights into consumer conversations are derived about issues, products, and services.
The IBM Social Sentiment Index makes use of advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies to mine huge volumes of data from a number of social media channels in order to gauge public opinion on a variety of trending topics. The Index identifies and measures sentiments – positive, negative, and neutral – from public forums like Twitter, blogs, message boards, and other social media platforms.
Using this technology, the IBM Social Sentiment Index on Consumer Shopping Preferences in India found that over 75 percent of people had picked smartphones, laptops, bikes and SUVs on their wish lists for the holiday season. When it comes to preferences for purchase, IBM also found out that style and design, along with price accounted for the majority of the social buzz. This shows that Indian consumers are looking beyond price tags, moving on from being highly price conscious.
Today, social media is influencing what people buy more than ever before. Understanding consumer behaviour benefits not only enterprises, but also the individual as he or she stands to gain personalized offers and discounts based on their personal preferences. This new form of market research offers businesses interesting insights into Big Data that can help them better understand and respond to consumer trends.
The blogger is Sivaramakrishnan Narayanan, Partner, Global Business Services, IBM India/South Asia.