Little Data: the fastest way for your business to enter a new market

Little Data: the fastest way for your business to enter a new market

You’ve probably heard of big data (it was all the rage a few years ago) but what do you know about little data? It might just be the smaller but more powerful insight tool your business needs to break new ground.

When entering a new market we quite naturally focus on the practicalities – investment, sales channels, logistics – operations are critical to effective execution. Yet despite its importance, focusing on “set up” too early can obscure an important detail; the customer.

We recently put a question to one of Japan's top marketplaces; “yes we can see the growth rates of the Japanese eCommerce market, but… what's in this for me (the brand)?” His face drew a blank. His brand - the marketplace - markets itself as a gateway for international brands, which it is. His job, which he does well, is to present the access and opportunity this gateway presents to international brands, which is undeniable. His job is not to operate said brand and his job does not depend on the performance of this brand, only its entry into the platform. In fairness to him too, his company - the marketplace - does not allow him to share data on trends and behaviours. It's really unusual for platform marketplaces to give up such data. So he is operating extremely well within his remit...his constrained remit. But that does not mean that such information doesn't exist. It needs to be pieced together from other sources to create a bigger picture.

One of the most liberating aspects of working in international markets is when we realise that the data we need to understand our customer is all around us in the form of “little data”. It doesn’t present us with macro projections, nor does it sound particularly sexy, but actually it tells us everything we need to know to build an effective execution strategy.  

Who and where is the target shopper? 

Why and what drives their purchase decisions? 
 How can I beat my competitors in appealing to their needs? 

Little Data describes the data we have all around us – customer data, category data, social media data. By itself, it is fairly insubstantial, but when aggregated together this becomes informative about the opportunities right in front of us.

So to all those that tell you working in international marketplaces is hard, we say…what isn’t? But there is a formula and you probably have the inputs to that formula at your fingertips. Maybe you just need someone to show you how to piece it together.