Big Data and consumer behavior: imminent opportunities

Charles F. Hofacker*, Edward Carl Malthouse, Fareena Sultan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess how the study of consumer behavior can benefit from the presence of Big Data. Design/methodology/approach – This paper offers a conceptual overview of potential opportunities and changes to the study of consumer behavior that Big Data will likely bring. Findings – Big Data have the potential to further our understanding of each stage in the consumer decision-making process. While the field has traditionally moved forward using a priori theory followed by experimentation, it now seems that the nature of the feedback loop between theory and results may shift under the weight of Big Data. Research limitations/implications – A new data culture is now represented in marketing practice. The new group advocates inductive data mining and A/B testing rather than human intuition harnessed for deduction. The group brings with it interest in numerous secondary data sources. However, Big Data may be limited by poor quality, unrepresentativeness and volatility, among other problems. Practical implications – Managers who need to understand consumer behavior will need a workforce with different skill sets than in the past, such as Big Data consumer analytics. Originality/value – To the authors' knowledge, this is one of the first articles to assess how the study of consumer behavior can evolve in the context of the Big Data revolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 21 2016


  • Big Data
  • Consumer behavior
  • Marketing analytics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

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