Revealing the facts of life

Your feature on lifestyle databases “Facts of Life” (MW May 1) carried several gross generalisations that are not true.

It stated that lifestyle surveys do not provide detailed knowledge of individual consumer habits. This is wrong.

More than half of each ICD survey, which is carried out nationally to every UK household, focuses on specific product purchase.

In addition, manufacturers can also sponsor their own questions in national consumer surveys to discover the exact information they need to know.

Jon Epstein asks: “Why bother wasting money on acquiring new customers when it is so much easier to milk the ones you already have?” The question is naive, but nevertheless should be answered. You do business with both.

Companies get bigger by looking after existing customers and making sure the opposition does not get the rest. If data is needed to win them, the source which Epstein dismisses in such a cavalier manner can provide it much more effectively than he clearly believes, and often in more detail than many company databases.

Lifestyle information is not a substitute for relationship marketing. Building lifetime loyalty requires far more than simply generating information.

But if it is consumer information that marketers need, specific or otherwise, good lifestyle information provides the answer.

Lastly, I would like to pick up on a claim made in the article that ICD is the only lifestyle company to carry out national mailings to the whole of the UK.

Last year, ICD generated a total of 3.4 million household responses, each carrying up to 3,000 data fields. This puts us leagues ahead of any competitor in terms of volume and breadth of recent consumer data.

Martin Kiersnowski

Managing director

ICD Surveys

London W2

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