The Internet has a Data Problem
I had a weird emotional response the other day that I can’t seem to get over and it’s really started to make me question everything about the current state of the internet. I consider myself a power user of a particular men’s grooming brand. I use their shampoo, facewash, deodorant, lotion, and pomade. I love their story and the efficacy of their products. It’s one of those brands that I recommend to everyone. I follow them on Instagram, Facebook and subscribe to their email. It may be a bit overboard, and just writing all this makes me sound a bit obsessed, but I’m not ashamed.
The particular brand in question is based in California and I’m in NYC, with a little California in my life. The incident happened a couple weeks ago. I was perusing my Instagram feed and mindlessly flipping through the stories, when I saw that the brand held a private event in NYC, literally 5 blocks away from my apartment. This is when the emotional response happened. I felt betrayed and meaningless to this brand. There was a bit of anger and frustration that this is how I hear about the event not to mention that I didn’t get an invite. Oh, and I was also running low on some of my products, so I even questioned my loyalty when thinking about a repurchase.
But being a rational human being and a seasoned marketer, I looked at my emotional response with a different view point than most would. However, I do think that the depth of my emotional response was surprising. I’ve never experienced that level of relationship-type response with a company before. Now the more people I talk to about this moment, I see that this connection is becoming the new normal. Where we’ve gotten emotionally connected with the brands that we covet, follow and engage with. The Social Media gurus and ninjas from 2007 were right! Over time and through engagement, we have built these trusting, emotional connections with our brands.
So, I thought about how my interaction with this brand could have been better and what broke down to make me feel this way and have this negative response to a brand that I am truly an advocate.
My analysis: The internet is broken. Now we need to fix it.
We have spent the last 12 years crafting these meticulously curated digital personas of ourselves, with little to no valued response. We connect and engage with content, brands, organizations, people, products, and causes that matter to our lives. We want to matter and these interactions give us that satisfaction and value. This creates a tremendous amount of data and opportunity to learn and grow with an individual and provide customized value to me as a consumer. I think the problem is that this data is saved in walled gardens where it goes into the ether only to be used on that particular platform. Facebook keeps their data, brands keep their data, retailers keep theirs, etc. The problem with my relationship with this brand was that the data was broken. There was no way that the brand itself would know I was a power user, my interaction was negotiated through a retailer, not directly with the brand, even though my relationship is with the brand.
This is and will continue to be a massive problem in our current environment of product distribution and will even become an issue as we grow as a society toward a proactive internet. If data continues to stay siloed in our walled gardens only for selfish reasons, the consumer experience will always be poor.
This is and will continue to be a massive problem in our current environment of product distribution and will even become an issue as we grow as a society toward a proactive internet. If data continues to stay siloed in our walled gardens only for selfish reasons, the consumer experience will always be poor. We need to find a way to give the power back to the consumer and have them decide how their data works for their lives and the holistic relationships with the brands, causes and organizations they align with and value.
I don’t have the solution, but see a major opportunity for us as digital, technology and marketing leaders to find a way to make the internet better for the end user.
How can we fix this?