New visions: capturing digital data and market research

Mariann Hardey

Durham University

There is a new craft within marketing that is devoted to the creation of visual representations of complex data. These ‘visualisers’ are the new craftsmen (and often women) of marketing, who work on large and often emergent flows of data in the digital back office. Their product is inserted into the marketing reports and documents of all kinds and does much to shape our view of the world.

In the mid-1970s, postcode data of various sorts became available and provided a new way of describing and differentiating neighbourhoods. Ever increasingly powerful computers, the ubiquity of the internet in advanced societies and the widespread adoption of digital transactions by consumers have since added considerably to the same postcode data. In particular, techniques of statistical cluster analysis when applied to the myriad forms of spatially referenced material have been used to sort data into clusters based on a chosen set of relevant attributes.