The Big Lie… or the vexed business of discovering small truths

Can the marketing community confront the possibility that, even and indeed especially in an age when the monitoring of the behaviour of consumers has never been so technologically advanced, it becomes harder to know those consumers really well?

Now, the miracle that is Big Data and the sheer impossibility of not leaving a digital footprint as you surf, browse, shop… would seem to make nonsense of any such notion. Your local supermarket probably knows more about you than your granny/spouse/best friend combined. So much personal intel grows on social media – as easy to harvest as an orchard of over-ripe Bramleys in a sudden Summer squall. Even the most inert brand can know that you are about to flit, that you seriously like Mexican street food, Aston Villa and Game of Thrones, that you live in Coventry but work in Edgbaston. Never before in the history of markets have consumers been more casually, generously voluble about their lives and likes. (And never before has data science allowed so much to be known – whether volunteered or not).