Big Data and Hooch

Big Data and Hooch

So, you think you know your customers? I am confident that you do, and in a lot of ways to boot. The smart distilleries did their research, found their niche, and focus on their target market with an eye at branching out to other related markets.

That serves craft distilleries and most other businesses quite well. Not to sound purposefully convoluted here, but is this kind of knowing your customers well really knowing them well, or just knowing a little bit of what they know about themselves? What if there was a way to understand them even better, maybe even better than they know themselves in a lot of ways? Well, there is a way. It's called Big Data.

What is big data?

Big Data is the study of data sets so vast and in-depth that it would be impossible for standard data compilation processes to handle it. In Football terms, regular data or market research is a talented high school or college quarterback. Big Data is, love or hate him, Tom Brady. Hiring a good and reputable Big Data company to help your distillery is the equivalent of bringing Tom Brady to your football team.

How can your distillery use big data?

A craft distillery can use Big Data to better know and understand their customers like bars and restaurants who buy their spirits. This includes seeing how customer’s views their overall purchasing experience – a factor that is becoming more important to consumers. Big Data can spot emerging trends in the industry as a whole, or within a specific niche. It can also analyze a brand’s presence on social media, including positive and negative mentions. All this info can be directly applied to improving a distillery’s operations.

Be Careful with Big Data

Big Data is scary to a lot of people. It can create, in the eyes of some, a massive breach of privacy. All our daily habits and actions all act as little clues as to what is going on in our lives and even things we actively try and keep secret can be outed by Big Data. Years back, Target figured out one of their customers, a teenage girl, was pregnant by tracking her purchases. They sent her fliers and coupons for baby stuff. Her father was livid when he saw the coupons and accused Target of encouraging teen girls to get pregnant. Then he found out the truth and apologized. No matter how you spin the story, it’s creepy that this happened on all levels. This has made many people afraid of Big Data, and distrustful of companies who use it.

Everyone has secrets, and they want them to stay that way. Big Data can, as you just read, out those secrets. Most of the time it’s benign stuff like the family skeleton in the closet, a less than law abiding early adulthood, or even plain old-fashioned, "It's nun ya business! That why!” While Big Data has legitimate uses, it can be used in a way that can be abused, and sometimes it’s a fine line separating the two which can be easily crossed. Use it judiciously.


One last thing to keep in mind is that Big Data, while a powerful and amazing tool, is not infallible. It is still ultimately tethered to what is known. Case in point about unknown factors changing everything, the Original Star Wars movie. (It’s not a Big Data story, but the moral is relevant.) When George Lucas was making the original Star Wars film, almost everyone thought he was nuts. One piece of proof was what the studios knew what audiences preferences and expectations were back in 1977. People wanted gritty, realism with contemporary soundtracks. That was until Star Wars came out. In essence, movie audiences didn’t know that they wanted something like Star Wars because they couldn’t imagine a movie like that was possible. 41 years later, most every blockbuster is still using that Star Wars template.