E-Commerce companies having hundreds of millions of customers, can disrupt one very old industry also.

It’s called Market Research.

When data is the king, in an connected world, it is rare to have even a single choice in isolation. The e-commerce companies can provide data on customer insights, where no market research company can ever go or reach.

Can the flavour of the toothpaste bought by customers tell about their eating preferences?
Can the type of oil bought by customers, tell about their eating habits?

Yes, to both the above queries.

So, it is not surprising for richest of them (both in number of customers and quantum of data), to work on such a service.

Alibaba’s Tmall Innovation Centre (TMIC) works with brands, domestic and foreign. Together they develop and innovate on existing products, which can appeal to Chinese consumers.

The proof of the pudding always lies in eating. So when data on ‘what pudding is being eaten’ is there, why to go to market research companies, and tell them to find out, ‘what type of pudding customers would like to eat?’

Alibaba has insights from data of it’s 500 million customers. It thus taps into it and then applies it to their need, be it sales or market research.

Johnson & Johnson worked with TMIC to learn that Listerine’s target audience—young Chinese women—prefer mouthwash with fruit and floral flavours. As a result, Listerine will debut two new products in China during Alibaba’s upcoming 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, or Singles Day, during which Alibaba sold $25.3 billion worth of goods in 24 hours last year.