The search for Long Johns in cold New York

It is minus 13 °C in New York City (with the wind chill), and I feel woefully unprepared for the cold. I immediately head to the Uniqlo store on 5th Avenue – to check out their Heattech vests, long johns and socks. They are out of long johns.

A sales associate tells me and some 20 year olds, who are looking for the same thing – ”I am sorry, we’re all sold out. In fact, my husband is leaving on a skiing trip tomorrow, and needs them too. Since we’re out, I am going to buy him these thin sweatpants – they’re the closest to the long johns.”

Good work, lady…we all end up picking up some sweatpants.

An hour later, I am on 34th street, and see another Uniqlo store. I decide to see if they have long johns in stock. They do – but only in white. I see a sales associate passing by, and ask her if they have them in black.

A 20 something guy from the UK standing right behind me tells the associate – “same question!” and then to me “who wears white?”. While she goes to check, we are joined by a young African American guy, and a 60 year old Japanese woman. They ask us (!!), if the associate is getting us black long johns. She comes back to tell us that black is sold out.

No doubt the sudden cold weather has all of us landing up at Uniqlo. But all of us – across age, and ethnicity looking for black long johns. We’re used to thinking of tastes as different across geographies? But how different are are our tastes really? Isn’t it more appropriate to look for individual cues for tastes – that might cut across demographic boundaries?

At Crayon Data, we use products to tell us what a person’s tastes might be. Or our preferences for some products over others – black long johns over white, a pair of timberland weathered brown boots over a more formal pair of shoes, tells us about the persons tastes. These are unique to the person, and yet, similar to a million others – across the world. How do you find these patterns of tastes?

Crayon uses publicly available data, along with sophisticated algorithms, to create a taste graph that currently has over 600 million taste points. Retailers can work with Crayon to use this taste graph to identify what their customers might like.

This will result in happier customers, and more revenues for the retailer. Here’s a short video clip that shows you what we do.

Crayon’s co-founder, Srikant and I are in New York City for NRF’s Big Show, from the 9th to the 13th of January.

We would love to catch up over a cup of coffee, and tell you more about our revolutionary products.

To fix up a day and time, get in touch with me at ajoy@crayondata.com

About Ajoy Krishnamurti

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