The role of purchase data in understanding and predicting consumer behavior

customer making a purchase

Shakespeare Would Have Been A Great Digital Marketer

“What’s past is prologue.”

Shakespeare wasn’t talking about purchase data but he sure was right on the money. 

We in marketing spend an enormous amount of energy attempting to predict what will drive consumer behavior. It’s a tale as old as time! 

In the digital age of advertising, we’ve relied on tried and true data from places like web browsers and mobile apps. 

What we can learn and understand from these sources is starting to change, especially amid increased regulation and improved protections on privacy. We think this is a good development for the consumer, but it’s one that is forcing brands to adjust, yet again. 

Enter purchase data. In other words, understanding what consumers have spent on in the past. It’s one thing to infer interest in something, it’s entirely another to point to actual purchase behavior and know for sure. 

A better picture of the consumer

Granular purchase data like brand preferences, frequency of purchases and types of purchases can be extremely helpful in gaining a better picture of the consumer. Especially when it’s matched against other demographic data and attributes collected from opt-in campaigns. 

Let’s pause there for a moment to ensure we’re not glossing over this incredibly important detail. Matching this data back to an individual is what truly unlocks its value. 

“Who is it that can tell me who I am?” asks the title character in Shakespeare’s King Lear. 

In a cookie-based world of pseudo-anonymous digital personas, it’s not possible to tell who anyone is! Therefore, it’s impossible to match purchase history back to an actual person and complement this data with additional attributes about that person. 

Having the ability to match personally identifiable information (PII) against purchase data opens a whole new world of campaign capabilities. 

Privacy for the win

Let’s pause a second time and make sure it’s clear on what is not collected when it comes to purchase history. We don’t know what specific SKU a consumer bought or when they bought it. We also don’t know where they bought it. 

The lack of this detail puts a tidy privacy bow on the overall package. It’s also unnecessary for our purposes. It’s more important to understand brand preferences and the category of products. To this end, we can see purchase information in more than 4,500 categories. Everything from food to apparel to automobiles and everything in between. 

At Bridge, our taxonomy for purchase data is the largest among the datasets we have. We spend a considerable amount of time and effort continuously improving this taxonomy based on natural language programming. We look deep into correlations between different categories. 

And for good reason… 

The lift when a consumer’s purchase history is better understood can be significant. Compared to not having this data, it can be as much as double. 

Even though you may be marketing to half of the people (which reduces cost), response and performance rates can increase 100% because you’re marketing to people that not only have proven interest but proven spend. 

There is a range of use cases that can be implemented based on purchase history:

  • Suppression. For instance, if a brand doesn’t want to target consumers that have purchased from them in the past. 
  • Acquisition. For brands that want to target a competitor’s customers. 
  • Promotion. Promote a specific product to people who have previously purchased in that category. 
  • Awareness. Help brands understand what consumers are buying. 

As the economy pulls back and consumers are beginning to keep a closer eye on spending, targeting the right people at the right time has never been more important. This is especially true as we approach the biggest shopping season of the year. 

“To see or not to see, that is the question.” 

OK, that wasn’t actually the question. But if it were the question and it was posed to digital marketers, it is quite clear how insight into consumer purchase data can provide a substantial leg up at a time when it couldn’t be more helpful. 

Let us know how purchase data can support your efforts. After all, seeing is believing. 

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