Data may be king — as they say — but many retailers may find themselves feeling like an innocent pawn among all that data. And then there’s the challenge of how to use marketing research to reach the right consumer in the right channel and the right time with the right message.
“Many marketers find themselves drowning in an ocean of data,” says David Heitman, vice president of marketing for Wiland, a data-driven business intelligence provider that seeks via marketing research to help retailers and eCommerce companies identify and connect with customers. “The path to success comes in separating the signal from the noise by identifying the data that is predictive of consumer behavior.”
Wiland operates one of the largest consumer databases, tracking more than $220 billion in transactional, SKU-level data — transactional and behavioral — for over 235 million Americans. The company uses proprietary predictive modeling and analytics to help retail clients focus on particular, potential customers.
The Colorado-headquartered marketing research business was founded in 1971 by the current president and chairman Phil Wiland, who launched and sold consumer catalog and online brands. Over time the company has worked with more than 3,000 clients and developed “merge/purge” software powered by artificial intelligence for direct mailers and predictive audience modeling.
When asked about success and proof points related to clients, Heitman said that the data is confidential, but the company has seen overall growth.
“Our solutions are directly tied to our clients’ growth and profitability,” said Heitman. “Everything we do is measurable, so there is no question about the effectiveness of our solutions.”
Like many companies, the recession in 2008 was something the company grappled with as the Wiland is closely tied to the consumer economy, he said. But the Colorado economy has been good to Wiland, Heitman added.
“The Colorado economy is booming, so like other companies in the area, we have to compete hard for the best employees to fill all our openings,” he said.
That said, regardless, when you’re handling consumer data, there can be issues related to personal privacy.
In July 2015, Wiland was included in a certification order related to a class action case involving Time Inc., where a consumer alleged that her information was used and distributed to a third party without her knowledge or consent. Similar cases have been filed against other magazine publishers through Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act.
“We rigorously protect the privacy of our clients and the business data they contribute to our cooperative database,” Heitman says. “I’m not aware of any instances of questions posed to us by consumers about privacy.”
In the interim, he says that the company’s success in numerous industries, including multichannel retail, financial services, consumer services and nonprofit fundraising, has paved a way to enter more markets and industries. “We push ourselves constantly to exceed our own industry-best predictive audience modeling and business intelligence solutions.”