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Following on from my previous article, where I shared some key insights from the eCommerce Expo in London, I would like to use this second piece to highlight more things that I learned at the event.

The role of data in marketing

A very interesting keynote talk I attended was the talk about branded content and how data, content and insights can assist in achieving all your goals. The panel consisted of Senior executives from Bacardi, Adobe and O2; together these companies have with a market capitalization of 175B dollars and a access to a huge amount of data and with responsibility on how to use this data.


Let’s give you some context:

As technology continues to evolve and develop at a rapid pace, the role of modern marketing is changing. As a result, companies are driven by data insights and how to improve understanding of customer engagement. Job descriptions are changing as we try to find the role for the modern marketer”

Andrew Canter, Panel Moderator


McKinsey mentions that data gives you the potential to transform how companies organise, operate and manage their talents and create value. CEOs and other top executives must be able clearly to articulate their purpose and then try to translate insights to drive business.


For Adobe, data is the way to understand the impact and the engagement with partners and customers and refine their strategy. In the past, there used to be a shortage of data but today there is plenty, and now it is all about focusing on driving insights and the story behind all this data.This is key to making better decisions.


For Bacardi, data has always been at the heart of the company’s decision making. A phrase that stayed in my mind is the following “Data is dollars”. All businesses are financially driven which means, they go where the dollars go.

Data insights to drive sales

Barcardi provided an interesting example of data usage with the initiative “Go behind the bar”, where on the 4th of February every year, which is the Founder’s Day, all company employees go to bars and talk to customers and bartenders.


These pieces of “small” data have a huge impact as they help improve storytelling and drives more sales for the brand. This is a great example of rich data. It is not a matter of vanity metrics, it is about knowing a few pieces of important data to understand your customer.


Dollar tracking is an important part of marketing results as it highlight where money is spent, however driving revenue for a company does not mean that a company treats its data properly.

The impact of regulations when it comes to interpreting data

For Bacardi, technology and especially social media have been a great enabler for socially responsible drinking. People are more mindful about their consumption which is something visible and trackable. In fact, according to the numbers, even though less Gen Zers drink spirits, than Millennials, the overall volume that they drink is the same as that consumed by the Millennials. Both generations have linked their behaviour with the moments they share, and this is all that matters to brands.


A great example shared was that often Bacardi are looks for collages of Instagram pictures because what people post tells you more. In addition to that, when a brand is hashtagged or tagged, this is a success as it shows that the company is on the right track and is interpreting data carefully. 

The benefits of sharing data

Using CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing) tools for marketing automation, it is very easy for consumers to unsubscribe from databases if they no longer wish to receive information or believe that a company does not serve their needs.


All three panellists agreed that the key to business success is to offer value. You need to build trust and relevancy with your customers. What was highlighted is that both Millennials and Gen Zers do not expect regulations from the government to define privacy, they expect brands to be responsible for their privacy. Consumers are happy to share their information if they get the value they expect from a brand. A brand must not only serve branded content but be able to understand what customers have as a branded experience.

Who is responsible for data management?

Everyone is responsible due to GDPR. Trust is the element that businesses need to earn from customers. Bear in mind, how many times in the last years we have heard about data bridging, involving leaks to the public. Companies need to have a better relationship with data management teams or companies, be transparent and always raise any alarming issue immediately and in some cases withdraw content from channels.


Marketing is part of this process and companies need to understand how to use data to discover the data gaps and enhance customer’s privacy. However, data is not interpreted by the marketers but by data scientists proving that as marketers we still have work to do. It is important to note that sensitive data information must be protected and when misused, even unintentionally, there will be financial penalties.

Are there any best practices for interpreting data?

The panel agreed that there are no best practices.First is it crucial to know and understand your customer. If you are a brand such Bacardi, each brand in your portfolio has something unique – as a sub-brand. “Don’t let the data slow you down, let it drive and accelerate your success”.Brenda Fiala, Global VP Strategy, Insights and Analytics, Barcardi


It is widely known that marketing teams have not caught up with what technology has to offer. The reason behind this goes back to structural issues. What they need to do is to work in a more collaborative ways with data analysts.


The story of your brand is a vital aspect of your business strategy. That said, all brands want to sell. Certain data can be used to help drive short-term sales and other data can be used to build a branding message that will lead to long-term sales.

The human aspect of using data for marketing

It is important to remember the importance of turning data insights into great storytelling. A lot of companies are now starting to recruit generalist marketers as opposed to specialists because, it’s all about how a person can handle data, interprets data to a create a great overall story.


To conclude, I would like to leave you with two phrase that stayed in my mind after this keynote:


Technology is an enabler, data can bring creativity to the table, however people are the barrier!” (Brenda Fiala, Global VP Strategy, Insights and Analytics, Barcardi)



 “Data is the new oil but to me it is all about how people interpret and use it from a creative perspective!”(John Watton, Senior Marketing Director, EMEA, Adobe)




Alexandros Anastasiadis

Digital Marketing Executive at SQLI