Combining the two approaches can solve many of the problems that each category of data faces on its own.
Big Data Is Only Half the Data Marketers Need - Harvard Business Review
Thick data’s strength comes from its ability to establish hypotheses about why people behave as they do. It cannot help answer questions of “how much,” only “why.” Big Data has the advantage of being largely unassailable because it is generated by the entire customer population rather than a smaller sample size. But it can only quantify human behavior, it cannot explain its motivations. That is to say, it cannot arrive at a “why.”
…Left even more uncertain than before the survey, the CMO decided to commission a study to come up with thicker data: he wanted insights from spending time with consumers in their homes and daily lives.
…a major shift in consumers lives was apparent. Not only had their food habits changed, but people’s whole social lives were different. Stable family routines were dissolving, and predicting what next week would look like was increasingly difficult.
…the experiences that the company’s stores offered were out of sync with the reality of the consumers. Instead of focusing on lowering prices, the supermarkets future strategy was built on a different idea: building distinctive shopping experiences that fit into customers’ fragmented lives.
…The big data alarmed the CMO, prompting the exploration of why the numbers were changing. The thick data afforded the needed insights to understand what bigger shifts were behind the numbers, and provided the renewed take on what kind of business the retailer was in.…
Melding big and thick data together isn’t easy. It requires changing practices, hiring new people, and allocating funds away from familiar ways of doing things. But once you’ve seen the power of real data, you’ll question the millions of dollars wasted on surveys and focus groups.