Oh, All That Yummy Consumer Data . . .

What do people want?  That's a big question in any business venture or job, and one that is often surprisingly hard to answer.  In many cases people just hope people want what they make, or hope to convince them they want it (that's what marketing departments are for).

Right now in the age of DLC, e-comics, and online purchases from stores with gigantic virtual inventories, we've got an incredible opportunity to find out what people want.  We'd better be ready, because the meandering-forward economy with its eBooks and virtual stores and fermium games is going to be a giant learning opportunity.

We're going to find out what people want even if we don't want to find out, and we're going to find out in ways we never expected:

  • Freemium game models will tell us what people want to purchase out of a game and what they don't.
  • Freemium models will also tell us what people will pay for and what they won't.
  • People have access to products they'd never have heard of online and they can get them with relative ease.
  • People are free from embarrassment of certain purchases, thanks to online stores that deal in all kinds of things that you might not purchase in public – or even want to think about.
  • People have access to backlogged content they normally wouldn't get in a non-electronic format.  We'll discover more of what people want that would normally not be available.
  • People have access to technologies that automatically deliver content – such as DLC or Print On Demand.  It is easier to get things they normally couldn't get due to complex and expensive distribution methods.

If you analyze consumer habits and trends, marketing success, or product ideas you're probably having a mixture of elation and utter terror as you look at all these changes and all this data.  If you're not in that business, indulge in a little residual elation and terror – because consumer opportunities are changing and we're going to learn a lot.

We're going to find out what people want, like it or not.  We progeeks need to jump on all this data so we can understand it – and succeed.

Steven Savage