If you’re a little company with few resources, you may be wondering whether big data is something you need to worry about. The answer is: your competitors are using it. If you aren’t, you’re falling behind. Big data is very important and I’m going to show you how it’s used on an everyday basis.

A few years ago, Under Armour acquired a company called MapMyFitness which is an app and a website. If you’re a runner or a cyclist, you put the app on your smartphone, turn it on when you start a workout like a run or a ride and turn it off when you’re done, that’s all you have to do. When your workout is over, the app tells you where you’ve gone by putting a map of it on your mobile device or computer, it tells you how many calories you burned, which hills you climbed and how steep they were, how you rank compared to other runners or bikers, lets you connect to them if you want, find new routes, and many other things. There’s a lot of free information given to users and it’s popular because it can be incentivizing for more exercise and it’s very addictive.

From UnderArmour’s point of view, I can think of a number of reasons why they’d want to own and integrate with MapMyFitness. The most important is that it brings UnderArmour closer to their consumer and makes UnderArmour part of their customers’ active lives. MapMyFitness makes Under Armour more relevant and authentic and that’s important to consumers today when they buy the kinds of sport-related garments and products that Under Armour sells.

Under Armour gets other benefits from MapMyFitness. The information it collects on consumer behavior, when aggregated, is informative and somewhat surprising. For example, by aggregating millions of runs, Under Armour knows where runners like to run. Under Armour says the number one most popular running route in the country is Memorial Park Loop in Houston, Texas (pictured above).

Under Armour can also tell you that the most popular time for this route to be run is, surprisingly, Monday at 6pm. Under Armour also knows that of the 20 most popular running routes in the country, 14 of them are next to or around a body of water (river or lake). The most popular day to run these routes is, not surprisingly, Saturday. But the second most popular time is Tuesday and the most popular time on Tuesday is not in the morning, it’s at 6pm.

What good is this information? If you’re Under Armour the information tells you when to advertise your products. If you know when people are going to be engaged in a related activity like running, you can advertise energy drinks or sneakers or other relevant products when you have reason to believe your consumers have those products on their minds. If you’re a real estate developer and you want to market to people who are demographically likely to be runners, you know you have added value if your property is near a waterway or lake where people prefer to run. You can get better demand for your property if you don’t own the lake or waterway, just by being nearby. There are numerous other examples. The point is that if you have this information, your return on marketing dollars spent is going to be way ahead of your competitors’. The converse is also true. If your competitors are using this kind of information and you aren’t, you’re behind. You are wasting more marketing dollars than your competitors are and they can bring more money to the bottom line. Their marketing is more effective and reaches more likely-to-purchase consumers than you can with the same spending.

Under Armour also aggregated information from devices that monitor people’s sleep around the world. That includes their own apps and others that they have access to. It’s well known that the most important part of sleep is the period called “deep sleep” by sleep experts. It’s a portion of the sleep cycle that happens after you’ve been asleep for some time. By measuring data from all over the world, Under Armour can see which populations get the best sleep.

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