Using data signals, it's now possible to determine the pre-triggers for purchase, which allows brands to create communications earlier in the purchase journey before they get to the more competitive active stage. Identifying these pre-triggers is illustrated with case studies from the banking and insurance sectors

In 1940, a man called Norbert Wiener tried to predict the behaviour of German fighter pilots – with the goal of shooting them from the sky. His method was to take the trajectory of the plane from its observed motion and consider the pilot's most likely evasive manoeuvres. Unfortunately, he only managed to predict one second ahead of the motion of the plane, and as it took twenty seconds to hit a plane with gunfire, his prediction was completely useless. But Norbert had the right idea. He knew how powerful it can be to pre-empt behaviour.

Today, with purchase moments becoming ever more competitive, pre-empting customer needs before they come to market offers a significant, often untapped opportunity for marketers.