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Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,112 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Martin Lindstrom, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, harnesses the power of “small data” in his quest to discover the next big thing

Hired by the world's leading brands to find out what makes their customers tick, Martin Lindstrom spends 300 nights a year in strangers’ homes, carefully observing every detail in order to uncover their hidden desires, and, ultimately, the clues to
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by St. Martin's Press
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Anant Agnihotri I found it very useful.

Since the past few years "Big Data" has taken a lot of attention. Organizations are capturing all sorts of minuscule data and …more
I found it very useful.

Since the past few years "Big Data" has taken a lot of attention. Organizations are capturing all sorts of minuscule data and analytical folks are writing more and more complex algorithms to make meaning out of that grain data. Which is then interpreted to make business decisions. To a large extent I feel this is a very important dimension in decision making. But I always had this itch, that this approach is not "the best" by itself. Why do I say so? I know people who are not so "data driven" but have still been able to make some really good business decisions. LEGO for example would not have been LEGO if it were not for the use of Small Data.

What I am trying to say is, my biggest take away from this book is a reminder to pay attention to things that "big data" cannot capture; human thought process and human emotions. Big or small, both data sets need to work together. The dilemma is, sometimes they might tell very conflicting stories.

- Anant Agnihotri(less)

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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
An entirely interesting and readable book on behaviouristic developments.

Though I had some issues with how the author perceives Russia. It's like he went to a country entirely different from the one I reside in.

Take this extract:
Russia’s biggest downside, for me at least, is its lack of color. Being in Russia is like breathing different oxygen, and I can feel a gray shade pulling down over me the moment I board a plane to fly there. No one is animated. No one smiles, or laughs. Ask most Russia
Martin Lindstrom, the author of this book, is a brand consultant who travels the world interviewing and observing people in their homes, shops and other places. His job is to understand what makes consumers tick and come up with ideas that help brands grow, reinvent themselves and even avoid bankruptcy. His clientele includes brands such as Lego, Walt Disney, Pepsi among others.

If you have any interest in business, marketing or technology you must have come across the term “Big Data”. Big Data r
Kris Zeller
Mar 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
I had a hard time with this book because it relies mostly on the authors observations, and I disagreed with nearly of all his observations about America. For example, he states that "In the United States, almost no public rooms are rectangular or sharply cornered". I would argue that nearly all public spaces ARE rectangular AND sharply cornered, if for no other reason than that it's easier to build things that way. He also claims that most Americans feel the need to chit-chat in elevators, which ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting study of behaviouralism within the field of marketing. The author identifies techniques in understanding underlying trends in marketing data. I am interested in reading about human behaviour from a psychological perspective so found this an engaging read. Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
Angie Reisetter
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
Mr. Lindstrom has a terribly interesting job, and this account of the things he's seen and learned is an intriguing and easy read. He travels the world as a branding consultant, studying the cultures companies wish to advertise in and then offering the companies advice on how to get people to buy there. There's a really positive way of looking at his job. On the other hand, he travels the world asking women and girls if they can see their bedrooms and kitchens, and using what he observes to repl ...more
Yousif Al Zeera
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
The book is simply terrific. It talks about the significance of "Small Data", which is getting "data" directly through observation, chatting with people and viewing things at its "nature-mode". It minimizes the room of manipulation and unmatching pieces of information that "Big Data" may encounter.

He is a key opponent for relying on "Big Data" only and, instead, calls for having "Small Data" complementing "Big Data" in order to better understand clients and people and, hence, make better decisio
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly, positively, fascinating! As a student of human behavior with a big interest in marketing (and the interaction between the two), I devoured this book from Page 1 right through to the end. And boy, did I ever learn a lot.

The author, who has written several other books on this and similar topics, calls himself a "forensic investigator of emotional DNA." His professional consulting assignments, should he decide to accept them, involve figuring out what humans really want (or "desire") and c
Angie Boyter
Jun 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Some interesting field trips and interesting observations, but ultimately I aborted about 1/3 through for numerous reasons:
1. Very self-aggrandizing presentation of his work, despite giving no supporting evidence for the validity of the technique
2. He took small observations and over-interpreted them tremendously with no justification
3. In several areas, he was factually incorrect. For example, he said only in the US did he find hotels where you couldn't open the windows, which reminded me immed
Feb 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
It was largely a waste of time. I read this while working a contract that revolved around small data thinking that it might help, but Lindstrom supposes that only he can make sense of it because he's able to tie back to hundreds of trips to a variety of countries and cultures.

So, um yeah... not super replicatable. Don't pick this one up expecting any magic bullets you can use. There aren't any. And some of the "consumer insights" he posits are stretches at best. Consider this one, about what he
Kate Puleo Unger
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not exactly what I was expecting. It's less of a business book about small data and more of an anthropological look at the very personal trends and behaviors of various cultures around the world.

After the introduction the book is broken down into chapters that are essentially case studies. Lindstrom recounts his research and recommendations for various companies. He's helping with product branding or marketing in almost all instances, but this book goes beyond being a resource for
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
This suggests that instead of mining big data, marketers should dig in to the details of people's daily lives to pull trends. Study microeconomics not macroeconomics.

It's fun in a move or TV show when we get to witness the great detective pouring out his genius to solve a mystery in vivid detail. It's the quick culmination of the plot including numerous details you couldn't possibly see coming. There's a satisfying "Ah ha" moment when you give the detective credit for his genius. You briefly de
Heather Flaigg
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
I received this book as a goodreads give away!

What really amazed me about the book is how much it opened my eyes to behaviors around me that I see every day and never actually
Don't know how much I believe to be true but it was a very interesting book. You won't be disappointed!
William Aicher
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, marketing
So ridiculously fascinating. And a great reminder of that aggregates of data do not explain who people are, what drives them and what is important to them. Absolute must-read for any marketer - and anyone who's just interested in human behavior.
Rachel Blom
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was so not what I had expected. When you read a title like 'Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends' it's clear that this book is about making sense of data you gather for marketing purposes. So what I was expecting was a bot of a how-to approach where the author showed how to translate big data (meaning cold hard figures and statistics) into small data (conclusions).


Martin Lindstrom calls himself a 'forensic investigator of small data', which he describes as emotiona
Aug 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
As the author notes in the concluding remarks, he's one lucky individual. Lucky as with little method stemming from vague notions of ethnography he managed to get certain brands out of a jam.

All the fine packaging of the cherry-picked cases meant to support the author's clairvoyant skills, does nothing but infuriate someone who travelled the world with actual curiosity/open-mindedness for surroundings. The square, highly generalized, no room for doubt manner of conveying info - the man is absol
Sep 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
So bad, it's (occasionally) good. The author takes outrageously wrong premises and draws weird conclusions that (sometimes) work. As long as people are paying him money for it, well... good for him!
Holly Evans
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is taking my people-watching to a whole new level. And making me more aware of how I act and the choices I make.
Denis Vasilev
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insights about human behaviour, desire, habits. Should be at least twice shorter with same usefulness.
Gupte Pratiksha
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Martin Lindstrom, one of the top most branding consultant, a columist for Harvard business review and the one who calls himself a business transformer, tells us about the emotions that are connected with the simple act of buying. A brilliantly written,  well researched, book which pin points the power of small observations in the world of big data. If you are from the field of marketing or computer science and information technology you know that big data is the hot selling cake of the 21st cent ...more
Kariuki Njiru
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book probably deserves 4 stars but it gets three for two reasons.

1. The misleading title that makes you expect some well researched and well thought out ideas.
2. The use of pseudo science to make points. Case in point: When toothbrushes stand in a holder or cup or jar, their owners tend to be less sexually active than not.

However, if you are able to overlook these misgivings, what you get are bankable insights from a leading marketing consultant. Plus there are tonnes of anecdotes that wi
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Looking deep into things that others might consider irrelevant or not even worthy of consideration to get an idea about a much bigger thing is what the author has done for a living, travelling the world and focussing on the small things, the small questions and the small details. Small data in other words.

This book is the author’s story, evangelising why it is important to be like a detective, hoovering up clues here, there and everywhere. This approach has seemingly worked for the author, with
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through FirstReads in exchange for an honest review. I’d rate the book as 4 stars. The only thing lacking was a more detailed account of how the other became world renowned for “small data”. However, the book is a must read as you’ll learn about yourself, others, how products are marketed to us, and how we as consumers determine a product’s final use.

Follow along with Martin Lindstrom as he rummages through strangers’ houses, interviews them, and makes countless observations. Th
Kumar Anshul
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the world of Big Data, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, Martin Lindstorm pulls off a convincing case for 'Small Data'- tiny but indispensable clues in consumer behavior that can only be unearthed with careful observation, one-to-one interaction and nuanced deep-diving exercises.

Lindstorm has been hired by world's leading brands (Kellogs, Lowes, Lego etc) to turn around their businesses and hence he definitely carries a huge amount of credibility in his suggested methods. He has be
Sukhamaya Swain
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its the most interesting book that I have come across in recent times. The experience of the writer which spans continents, cities and the rustic, the rich and the poor, the cultural and the scientific temperament, the habitual and the imbibed, lives and livelihood, life and lifestyle, the DNAs and the modified makes it a really interesting read. Whats more important was the ease with which the author shifts from an individual perspective to that of an organisation while narrating the experience ...more
Nadya Zdravkova
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have now idea why is this guy famous. First of all his "discoveries" are just a firm grasp of the obvious ("Visiting Brazil, I quickly found out that the nation is preoccupied with football and religion"...hello), second his conclusions are so far-fetched and unconvincing ("Roomba customers found the product a way to fill a vacuum of loneliness and insecurity"...really?) and what he does through months of small data collection in a foreign market should be well known facts and insights that ev ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
The author is apparently a highly successful consultant /advisor to a number of prominent (or want to be) companies that produce products or services for the retail markets. His task: sniff and snuff around in the opaque cultural muck and uncover discreet clues revealing hidden desires that can be harnessed and exploited for the purpose of marketing products and services. This, he claims, is small data mining, as opposed to the big data mining, which often misses the mark since the elusive clues ...more
Bharti Manchanda
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Taking the statistics and examples the author quotes with a pinch of salt, it does make for a fascinating weekend read. There's a clear message at the end of each chapter as you delve into it. The tips may be a bit out of the blue to follow in the current scenarios, the conclusion however is something we have known for a while. Big Data and Small Data need to go hand in hand to make up a call to action for the way ahead. To survive, you need to have both the arrows in your kitty. Relying on one ...more
Hakan Jackson
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I came into this book thinking it was a social science book on data. As I read I started to get more and more upset with the lack of scientific standards in this book. Then in accord to me that this book is more of a memoir of Martin Lindstrom traveling the world as a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Don Draper. It was really enjoyable to travel the world vicariously and solve Martin Lindstrom's well teased mysteries. Forget small things like confirmation bias, the rule of small numbers, random sampli ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book brimming with titbits of insight and intuition. Lindstrom is like the rain man of data, and lines such as "When I started my first advertising agency at age 12..." only underline his exceptional nature. Read it and make like a modern-day anthropologist.
May 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marketing
Based on my previous experience with Lindstrom, I truly expected more. It's rather a personal account of interesting events (some of them - very interesting, indeed) than something you can take marketing value out of. But it's cool to see in just how many ways people are weird :)
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Martin Lindstrom (born 1970) is the author of the bestseller Buyology - Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday Business, division of Random House). Lindstrom is also a public speaker and the founder of a number of organizations including Buyology Inc. Prior to founding his consultancy, Lindstrom was working as an advertising agency executive at BBDO. TIME magazine named Lindstrom as one of the ...more

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“No matter how insignificant it may first appear, everything in life tells a story. As” 3 likes
“lone piece of small data is almost never meaningful enough to build a case or create a hypothesis, but blended with other insights and observations gathered from around the world, the data eventually comes together to create a solution that forms the foundation of a future brand or business. My” 2 likes
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