Today the world is awash in massive amounts of context-rich data. Whether it’s GPS position information, social media posts, emails, digital audio or video, – even bio-sensor gathered data – customers are creating an endless stream of contextual information just waiting to be mined. In this article, Christopher Surdak and his guest author Ed King explore how big data can help retailers remain relevant and connected with customers on an emotional level.
Among his extensive works, 17th Century French philosopher René Descartes often wrote of the distinction between our thoughts and our emotions. Descartes believed that there was a distinct “separation of mind and body, rationality and emotion.” This distinction allows us to make decisions that make sense, and in this manner we are all rational human beings who make optimal decisions where ever and whenever possible. If this is true, contemporary retailers are significantly challenged to stem the overwhelming move to online commerce.
However, in his 1994 book, Descarte’s Error, psychologist Anthony Damasio suggests that emotion, rather than logic, guides behavior and decision making in the brain. Damasio studied people who suffered a significant brain injury. Specifically, he focused on those who had fully-functioning “logical” brains, but lacked the “emotional” center. The subjects were able to apply logic to a variety of situations but struggled to make a decision.
Without emotions, Damasio contends, people lack the drive, motivation and “spark” to make decisions. In other words, it’s emotion, not logic that triggers decisions and purchases. Who is right? More importantly, how can you possibly connect with customers on an emotional level, and remain relevant to them despite their addiction to mobile shopping?