GMARK Hosts Marketing Data Analytics Panel with Kraft, Allstate, Walgreens, & Orbitz

Thank you to Brittany Chibe, GMARK Treasurer for submitting this post.

On Tuesday, February 12, GMARK (Graduate Marketing Association) hosted the Data Analytics & Marketing Strategy Panel for UIC Liautaud MBA and MIS students interested in learning about best practices in regards to how companies analyze and use data to drive their marketing strategy decisions. The panel included representatives from Kraft Foods Group, Allstate Insurance Company, Walgreens, and Orbitz Worldwide.


The challenge with data analytics today is there is often more data than companies know what to do with and they are faced with the problem of eliminating the noise to make it applicable. Moreover, once companies sift through the noise and draw conclusion based on trends, there is the possibility that a company can “over fit” the data with its presumptions, leading it to overspend on a marketing campaign or target an incorrect market, and making a costly mistake.

So how do companies avoid these missteps? First, a corporation must understand the needs of its customers. Consumers are more savvy than they have been in the past, which means that businesses can no longer force-feed information to the public without it being questioned. Rather, the organization must work with the consumer to deliver what they desire, because if they don’t, a competitor will satisfy that need.

A great example of a company working to understand its customer base more intelligently is Walgreens with the introduction of their new customer reward and loyalty program. The in-house insights and analytics team at Walgreens studies the reward card behavior data to determine who is shopping in its stores and what they are buying. By dissecting this data to understand its consumer, Walgreens has deeper insights into its customers’ needs and wants and has changed its business strategy from “store specific” to “customer specific” to  deliver wellness and create a holistic experience for consumers.

Allstate Insurance utilizes a hybrid approach with internal and external data.  For example, Allstate has been using data on their Facebook pages to better understand its consumer base. With two different brand strategies reflected by the personalities of Dennis Haysbert and Mayhem, Allstate analyzes its Facebook pages to understand its customers’ likes and dislikes, and the unique preferences between these two segments.  

Kraft Foods Group utilizes feedback from their sales force working with distributors, as well as retail data provided by external vendors such as Nielsen, to understand shopper trends. They then use that intelligence to develop new products and marketing campaigns in support of their commercial customers like universities, hotels, and restaurant chains. On the other hand, Orbitz is very forward looking in terms of using predictive modeling to understand its customer. However, one of the many watch outs here is the unintentional fitting of the data causing “cancer of correlation” and ultimately shifting too much money toward campaigns that won’t deliver results.

So what does the future of marketing look like? Gone are the days of big budget ads and marketing campaigns that have no data to back them up.  Organizations will only focus financial and marketing resources on strategies that can be justified through evidence resulting from data mining and analysis. Companies are going to change the way they interact with consumers by transforming from a used-car salesman pushing its product on uninterested consumers, to data-driven, fact-based selling targeting the customers with exactly what they want, when they want it.



Thank you to our wonderful panel participants: Bob Intarakumhang Chris Stevens, Professor Kim Moon, Megan Sparks, and Jim Bernstein!

GMARK Leadership:

Jiv, Michelle, Brittany, Erika, Elizabeth, Catherine, Professor Moon, Megan, Laila, Nilay