Re using data to gain knowledge and intelligence from a different perspective

Author – Lynn Strand, BIR Editorial Board, Principal Outside Knowledge LLC and Chair Competitive Intelligence Division SLA 

I’ve been hard at work finalizing a project for a client on the spending habits of US consumers. It got me thinking about the vast array of data collected around the world to get insights into how people spend their money.

While I was primarily using the Community Expenditure Survey from the US Census Bureau for this project, my client had a lot of questions about other data that might be valuable for looking at the rest of the world’s spending habits.

It turns out that we can utilize an enormous amount of data gathered by governments, NGOs, foundations, think tanks, management consultancies, banks, journals and  academic institutions, just to name a few.

Want to find out how much it costs to buy a loaf of bread in Paris? Mumbai? Oregon? It’s out there.
How about a nice glass of wine? The average cost of a bottle of table wine in Zurich last year was $15.93USD. In New York it was $12.74USD, but in Seoul? A whopping  $27.66USD! So, what can this tell us about consumer behavior across the globe?

These seemingly small bites of data can be gathered up to create a fuller picture of what the average American, Korean, Australian or Columbian consumer views as important or necessary or frivolous in their day to day life. These important bits of data allow businesses and marketers to identify key new target regions for business growth, new product development  and trends that may influence how, where and when they do business.

I would encourage information professionals to explore the myriad of options available. Here are a few of my open source favorites: