Consumer Data Research Centre

About Consumer Data

What are consumer-related data?

Consumer-related data are data generated by retailers and other service organisations as part of their business process. They can be used to monitor the needs, preferences and behaviours of customers. Examples of consumer-related data include:

  • Sales data from till receipts
  • Loyalty card and reward scheme data
  • Market research data
  • Travel records
  • Retail turnover by store or product category
  • Energy consumption meter data

Many of these sources are frequently described as ‘Big Data’- a term used to describe extremely large datasets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions (source: Google).

How do businesses use consumer-related data?

Big Data can be extremely valuable to businesses as they help to:

  • Identify operational issues
  • Find practical solutions to problems
  • Understand customer behaviours
  • Discover new opportunities
  • Improve the strategic decision-making process

For more information on how we can help your organisation to realise the potential of your data visit the data partners section of the website.

How can researchers use consumer-related data?

It is not only businesses that can benefit from these data; consumer-related data are extremely interesting to social scientists from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds, including:

  • Geographers
  • Criminologists
  • Health Scientists
  • Transport Engineers
  • Environmental Scientists

Linking consumer data with other data sources allows researchers to undertake innovative research projects that provide fresh perspectives on the dynamics of everyday life, economic well-being and social interactions in cities. Visit the research section to find out about our exemplar research projects and outputs.

Why do we link consumer data?

To see the bigger picture researchers often need more information than any one data collection contains.

Very few business organisations are monopolies and so their data only offers part of the picture. Researchers therefore link different data sources to create more comprehensive assemblages for analysis.

Researchers can link consumer data with sources such as:

  • Longitudinal survey data – data that study the same people over time (e.g a birth cohort like the Born in Bradford project)
  • Cross sectional data – a sample of a population at one time (e.g the UK Census)

By linking data for research we are able to explore subjects such as:

  • The geography of fuel poverty and how better targeting of home insulation incentives may be used to alleviate this.
  • How the health of local communities is affected by the availability of healthy eating choices.