What is a Data Strategist?

Hardly up there with astronaut, driving Formula One cars or saving lives, is it?

Sounds like a gig spending the day sweating Excel hard. SQL. Lots of SQL. Statistical modelling, nightmares over VBAs, Macros and more formulae than you can shake a stick at. At face value, you have to be made of a particular kind of “stuff” to excitedly jump out of bed as a Data Strategist.

Can’t lie, with those assumptions, I wasn’t convinced I was made of that stuff. At all. I need variety, I need to understand customers, I need to flex some creative flair and frankly I’d rather empty bins than spend all day every day glued to Pivot Table after Pivot table.


Yes, there is data, and so having some sort of previous experience flirting with Excel really won’t do any harm. However, we’re not talking serious heavy petting with Macros and VBAs – if you’re comfortable creating a Pivot table, then that’s probably as advanced as it needs to get (although additional experience might also come in handy).

Think of the role more about taking a challenge from a Sainsbury’s supplier – and that can be anything from launching a new product in Sainsbury’s, understanding how to get lapsed customers buying your product again or helping the supplier support their wider marketing campaign. The starting point is always to understand what the client needs – what do they want customers to do? What are their objectives and KPIs? That all comes from a succinct client brief and a great client manager team.

Then we move to understanding the customer – who are they? What are they doing? What attributes do they have? That’s the really interesting part – thanks to a brilliant and intuitive Insights Platform, understanding all of that data is as simple as peas. You’re not mining data for hours on end – the platform is so easy and quick to use. Want to understand sales over the last 12 months? Easy. Split by week? Just as easy. Split by channel? Easy peasy. Customer demographics? Simple. You get the idea – and that’s just scratching the surface of what the insight platform is
capable of.

Understanding the customer is probably the most rewarding part of the job for me…

…that’s the sort of thing I get out of bed for, and it doesn’t mean getting an ulcer trying to find the answer.

In fact, it’s quite easy to just get lost in the data, and create 20 slides full of interesting insights about who these customers are and how they behave. I often find myself having to pare back the insights so that it tells a coherent customer story that addresses the brief, rather than shoe-horning in content just because I’m a bit of a customer geek and I think it’s all super fascinating.

Finally it’s then understanding how to put the two things together. So taking the objective from the client, and then using all of that tasty customer insight to make recommendations. At Nectar360, we have heaps of digital and traditional media channels at our disposal – not only the sort of things you’d normally see in a Sainsbury’s store, but out of home too. Social media, YouTube as well as on demand media. Watching a programme on a demand platform? Those adverts you see in the break? Yes, we can target you with a particular ad too. Mind blowing.

If the client wants to re-engage customers who have lapsed from their product – we can understand through the platform what these customers have done, where they’ve gone, and then use some really sophisticated targeting to fire solutions to them specifically – helping the client to get the best return on their investment. For other campaigns, it might be about driving awareness, in which case the media solution is more mass-market.

We then create a proposal in response to the client – drawing all those elements together in a really engaging story – one that’s 100% non-fiction.

It’s packed full of solid foundations in data, with recommendations that will help the client achieve their objective. How that story is told is completely up to you. As long as it’s all based on data, you’ll never go far wrong.

We’re really the experts at understanding Sainsbury’s customers – no-one knows them better than us.

And if your geek-neurons get triggered by knowing that most customers buying Sainsbury’s spreadable butter are single mid-affluence parents, aged between 45-54 and female, then you really need to check out the vacancies on the Sainsbury’s career website.

By now, you’ll probably understand why I’d run a mile at the thought of a “Data Strategist” job title, but then “Customer insight and data expert who plans media to help clients achieve their objective through epic story telling” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Dwaine Seddon – “Data Strategist”

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If you would like to hear more about Nectar360’s capabilities please contact us and someone in our team will be happy to help.