By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development
Information is a wonderful thing. I am a big believer in the proliferation of data and its ability to improve lives whether crowdsourcing healthcare data to spot patterns and trends to improve treatment, creating personalised offers based on browsing habits or reducing insurance premiums through specific premiums linked to individual driver performance.
At a hugely insightful roundtable we ran in London last year — there is clearly a privacy debate that must rightly be had — I just happened to fall on the other side of the argument and feel that appropriate use of data can only improve the products and services we as a public consume. They are no longer just theoretical and are becoming part of the mainstream. Take personalised ads, for example, where offers are pushed on websites based on what I am interested in. Who knew so much Pokemon merchandise still even existed?!
The following is wildly generic, bordering on pointless, but offers a wonderful insight into habits across entire nations.
Cost-estimating site Fixr.com carried out an exercise using Google’s autocomplete with the phrase: “How much does * cost in country [X country].” The results were truly excellent.
- In Russia, people want to know how much it costs to take a flight in a MIG aircraft
- In Brazil, it’s the cost of a prostitute
- South Koreans, meanwhile, are more preoccupied with rhinoplasty
What about us Brits? Well, we are concerned with the cost of living.
Other interesting results reveal a desire to learn the cost of diamonds in west Africa, food in China and a tummy tuck in Mexico.
I’m yet to find an actual use for this data, other than as a broadbrush illustration of how we can now delve into the habits of the masses. And that is fascinating. Are vasectomies really that popular in New Zealand? Do people in South Africa really ponder the cost of a cow? I imagine plastic surgeons in South Korea must have cause for optimism based on this information. Hopefully Brazil’s less-than salubrious response is not an insight into a burgeoning night time economy at the Rio Olympics.
I encourage you to check out the full piece here: http://www.fixr.com/blog/2015/04/17/world-of-obsessions/