The multi-million pound Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) initiative, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, is a collaboration between the UK’s leading universities and a growing list of industry partners to better understand the millions of data points generated each day.
Bringing together the universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and University College London, the CDRC said it has created a safe and secure data infrastructure which seeks to share these insights with academia, industry and the public at large.
Major retailers, local government organisations and businesses will share their data with the centre to help understand complex patterns of consumer behaviour.
Backers promise that privacy will be protected.
The aim is to use the findings to inform efforts to tackle a wide range of social and environmental challenges.
These include improving transport planning, studying the latest ethical consumer trends to help companies understand how people are making buying decisions, or identifying different ways of encouraging people to lead more healthy and active lifestyles.
To maximise potential of research for the research community the CDRC has set up CDRC Open; data which is publicly available to all for any purpose.
Examples of data include UK market research from the Ethical Consumer Research Association, which is the only comprehensive data set on the purchase of ethical products and services in the UK.
There are also models representing retail catchment areas, which can show the most probable shopping destinations in communities.