NEW YORK: Brand owners including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Ford are attempting to find new ways of translating the insights from big data into creative, emotional and "magic" results for shoppers.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, has access to more relevant consumer data than most firms, with over 57m "likes" on Facebook and some 18m users of the MyCokeRewards online loyalty scheme alone.

However, Joseph Tripodi, its chief marketing and commercial officer, argued that major corporations faced the obstacle of developing the necessary in-house capabilities to leverage the deluge of such information.

"One of the biggest challenges for companies like ours is building out the skill set to harness data and actually turn it into something useful. It's like crude oil. It needs refining before it becomes gasoline," he said, as reported by DigiDay.

Beyond this, Tripodi suggested it was important to mix the insights provided by analytics with a traditional component of the marketer's craft.

"We can't be obsessed or seduced by data," he said. "At the end of the day that emotional response is still a necessity."

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communication officer at Unilever, the FMCG specialist, similarly stated differentiation would only be achieved by drawing "magic" from facts and figures.

"At the end of the day everyone has the same amount of data because data is just people doing stuff. Converting that into insight is the point; that's where it turns to magic," he said.

The flow of data is not one-way. Ford, the automaker, and Smart Design, the agency, have thus created the SmartGauge dashboard giving drivers updates on matters like fuel use per mile or their rate of acceleration, using easy-to-understand icons.

Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president, global product development, told Research magazine: "What we need to remember is that data in its purest form is dull and not altogether useful to the everyday person.

"By visualising things in a different way, we are helping drivers get the most out of their vehicles and we are simultaneously learning new behavioural trends that will impact the next product development cycle."

Josh Silverman, US consumer services president at American Express, also asserted that the explosion of new digital tools presented many opportunities, but necessitated equally pioneering alliances.

"The technology and marketing communities need to partner to get this right," he said, "That's where the opportunity is."

Data sourced from DigiDay/Research magazine; additional content by Warc staff