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Small Data

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Small Data

The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends

St. Martin’s Press,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Harness small data to uncover the hidden desires shaping consumer behavior.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging
  • Insider's Take


Marketing guru Martin Lindstrom helps companies develop innovative brand strategies by focusing on the small, everyday details of people’s lives. With a client base ranging from Lego and Jenny Craig to Russian business tycoons, Lindstrom travels the globe, seeking indicators of consumers’ unfulfilled and unmet desires – which he gleans from fridge magnets, laundry detergent preferences and other minutiae. In this engaging text, Lindstrom teaches you how to interpret the small data around you while cultivating more objectivity about your own preferences.


Small data researchers uncover insights into consumer desires that big data misses.

When Martin Lindstrom became an adviser for Lego in 2004, the company feared those born in the Information Age would prefer video games to their building blocks. Lego’s marketing team visited an 11-year-old German boy to glean ethnographic insights about their customer base. The boy identified a well-worn pair of Adidas skateboarding sneakers as his favorite possession. Contrary to the widely-held belief that children of his generation valued instant gratification – a narrative big data research supported – this child gained social currency through achieving mastery at his chosen skill: skateboarding. His sneakers signaled this mastery to others.

Lego used the insight, gleaned via a small data point, to inform its strategy. The company reduced the size of its building bricks and increased the demands and complexity of Lego construction challenges. By 2014, Lego had become the largest global toy maker, with sales surpassing Mattel.

Small data can include a person’s habits, preferences, gestures, hesitations...

About the Author

Best-selling author of Buyology Martin Lindstrom is a brand adviser to PepsiCo, Red Bull, Nestlé and the Walt Disney Company.

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