The Personal Information Economy
adidas adizero F50 football boots with micoach technology

The Personal Information Economy

The Personal Information Economy (PIE), first identified by LS:N Global in 2011, refers to the increasing awareness among consumers of how valuable their personal data is to brands.

The Personal Information Economy Overview 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

The Personal Information Economy Overview

adidas adizero F50 football boots with micoach technology adidas adizero F50 football boots with micoach technology

From Facebook to Google+, from Tesco to Walmart, and from American Express to Foursquare and Bing, brands are recording consumers’ personal information and using it to anticipate their needs, desires and purchases – and to boost their own bottom lines.

In the Personal Information Economy, consumers take control of their data, quantify the minutiae of their lives, manage their reputations online and even monetise their personal information.

Click through the sections on this page to see how The Personal Information Economy trend has been manifest since 2011.


02 Priority Moments 02 Priority Moments

October: O2 reflects the PIE trend with a new mobile rewards scheme

O2’s Priority Moments mobile loyalty campaign sends brand coupons based on the O2 customer’s location and interests. A year-and-a-half after its launch, the campaign had increased the number of Priority Moments members by 100%.

Key Development: This is an early example of a brand using data to provide a better service to its customers and providing them with local information.

Joost Plattel, Utrecht, photography by Judith Jockel Joost Plattel, Utrecht, photography by Judith Jockel

October: Self-Quants Tribe

In 2011, LS:N Global profiles the Self-Quants, a tribe of consumers who have changed their lifestyles in alignment with the PIE trend.

This group of digital pioneers quantify their bodies and minds to improve their health and happiness using devices that capture personal data.

Key Development: The Self-Quants signify an impulse to take a data-led approach to happiness and wellness, which is now mainstream.

Up bracelet by Jawbone Up bracelet by Jawbone

November: Jawbone and Fuseproject design wearable device

Mobile technology company Jawbone and design studio Fuseproject create a wristband and iPhone app called UP, which enables wearers to seamlessly monitor their lifestyles.

The UP wristband continually charts its wearer’s movements during the day and during sleep, and uploads that data to an app.

Key Development: UP shows how good design can turn a Self-Quant tracking device into an aspirational item.


Nike+ Basketball advertisement Nike+ Basketball advertisement

February: Nike caters for the Self-Quants

Sportswear brand Nike launches Nike+ Basketball, a digital experience that tracks, records and analyses every aspect of a player’s basketball game through a sensor in a shoe.

Key Development: Nike shows how data can evaluate and affect the performance of amateur and professional sportsmen.

Audi Wörthersee performance electric bike Audi Wörthersee performance electric bike

May: Audi designs bike with self-quantifying technology

German car manufacturer Audi unveils its e-bike prototype featuring self-quantifying technology.

Riders can monitor performance statistics such as speed and energy consumption on the e-bike’s touchscreen computer and their iPhone.

Key Development: The impulse to track performance is being recognised by the world's biggest brands.

Movenbank Movenbank

August: Movenbank launches financial health rating scheme

New York-based online banking system Movenbank (now Moven) launches a service that assesses its customers’ financial health via their social media presence.

The service, CRED, integrates ‘mobile, online engagement, social media and gamification’, Brett King, founder of Movenbank, said at the launch of the service.

Key Development: We learn that consumers' digital and physical lives are intrinsically linked and that brands can develop a more holistic understanding of consumers thorough social data.

Coca-Cola Work it Out Calculator Coca-Cola Work it Out Calculator

November: Coca-cola embraces the Self-Quants movement

Coca-Cola UK launches the online tool Work It Out Calculator. The calculator helps consumers to understand how much physical activity is required to burn the calories contained in various Coca-Cola products.

Key Development: In a transparent move, Coca-Cola arms people with the tools to be healthier through data.


Spazza MyPrice Spazza MyPrice

March: Global retailers use loyalty programme to offer one-off price deals

New loyalty programme MyPrice enables retailers to offer deals to customers based on their personal information.

Using the MyPrice app, people scan QR codes on products in participating stores, and receive a reward based on personal factors such as their birth date and whether they are a student.

Key Development: The PIE provides the opportunity to give people a more bespoke service in an era of mass-customisation.

BleepBleeps Family BleepBleeps Family

July: BleepBleeps digital devices for parents launched

As the Self-Quants movement grows, PIE devices are being created in new sectors.

BleepBleeps, a set of digitally connected tools including a thermometer and buggy alarm, is designed to help mothers and fathers navigate parenthood.

Key Development: Digital tools become more important to parents in the PIE.

OptimEyes technology by Amscreen for Tesco OptimEyes technology by Amscreen for Tesco

November: Tesco runs targeted ads by scanning customers’ faces

British supermarket chain Tesco installs eye-scanning technology in all of its petrol stations to target its advertising according to gender and age.

The announcement raises concerns about privacy and demonstrates that the PIE trend has now hit mainstream consumer culture.

Key Development: Joining up the digital and physical worlds is more crucial than ever in the PIE.


Apple ios update which includes the Healthkit software Apple ios update which includes the Healthkit software

June: Apple moves into digital health-tracking market

Apple enters the mobile fitness-tracking market. New software products HealthKit and Health help users to monitor health and fitness data.

It also announces the launch of HomeKit, a service that will enable people to control functions such as locks in their homes with their iPhone.

Key Development: Consumers are understanding the importance of taking a pre-emptive, data-led approach to health.

Blanket by British Airways Blanket by British Airways

July: British Airways introduces data-measuring blanket on long-haul flights

British Airways trials blankets that visually display passengers’ stress levels during a flight, as measured by a brainwave-detecting headband.

The initiative is designed to draw attention to the airline’s commitment to customer comfort and sleep.

Key Development: This invention shows that data tracking can be used to monitor our emotions and more primal impulses.

Munchery + Jawbone Munchery + Jawbone

July: Meal-delivery service teams up with Jawbone to help consumers count calories

Meal-delivery service Munchery announces that its nutritional information can be automatically downloaded onto wristband Jawbone’s self-quantification app.

Key Development: The partnership signals a new emphasis on making self-quantification more intuitive.

FuelBox by Nike FuelBox by Nike

August: Nike accepts points for payment

Nike installs a pop-up vending machine in New York that enables people to buy clothing in exchange for NikeFuel points accumulated on Nike+ fitness devices.

Key Development: This is a signifier of LS:N Global's The New Value Economy trend and how aspects of the PIE feed into this. Consumers trade new forms of data-enabled value with each other and with brands.


Data Print Collection by Accept & Proceed and Rapha, London Data Print Collection by Accept & Proceed and Rapha, London

February: Cycling apparel brand Rapha creates a range of racewear that is inspired by rider data

Rapha’s Pro-Team range of lightweight, high-stretch jerseys, launched to celebrate the signing of Team Sky rider Peter Kennaugh, uses data analytics as a key design feature. The pattern of precisely scaled chevrons feature as the main motif and were created using race data from a Team Sky rider over a three-week grand tour.

Key Development: As consumers become more interested in data and the meaning that lies beneath it, brands and designers are using its visualisation to create powerful campaigns and products.

Porte des savoirs by EPFL ECAL lab and ALICE studio , Switzerland Porte des savoirs by EPFL ECAL lab and ALICE studio , Switzerland

March: US consumers seek more from brands in exchange for their personal information.

Consumers are looking to build mutually beneficial relationships with brands and digital devices based on empathetic sharing of data and personalised, seamless Phygital experiences, according to a the Digital Trends report from Microsoft.

Key Development: As consumers grow more conscious of how much companies know about them, they will feel entitled to better service, accurate recommendations and timely offerings from brands.

Still from the film What’s On Your Mind? by Higton Bros Still from the film What’s On Your Mind? by Higton Bros

April: Steve Hatch, regional director of Facebook for UK and Ireland, tells LS:N Global: ‘The idea that everybody’s experience is unique to them and of value to them is a thing we obsess about’

Facebook is a brand that is paradigmatic of PIE and its focus on personalisation is one of its major strengths. According to Hatch, its interface has been honed to ensure that each of the 14 times a day, on average, that its 890m daily active users log in, they are confronted with an experience, which is unique to them.

Key Development: Consumers in the PIE have a high level of personalisation from the social network. These expectations are seeping into other digital experiences and into the physical world.

Oral B Smart Toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity, US Oral B Smart Toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity, US

May: Smart toothbrush Beam offers users discounts at their dentist in return for their data

By signing up to Beam’s StarCard membership, people can earn rewards on their next visit to the dentist’s chair by brushing and interacting with the Beam app. ‘We’re not interested in toothbrushes at all. We’re interested in health data,’ explained Beam founder Alex Frommeyer. ‘Our behavioural insights can be translated to a dentist when we see those triggers hit.’

Key Development: Data is rewarded with a clearly related financial benefit to incentivise the adoption of connected devices.

The Hemnet Home byTham & Videgård, Sweden
The Hemnet Home byTham & Videgård, Sweden

June: Swedish property agency Hemnet caught the attention of architects everywhere with its home designed from people’s data

The property search engine analysed the top keywords between January and October 2014 to determine the country’s most statistically sought-after home. Combining prerequisite criteria with Swedish design tropes, including a red timber façade and a functional box shape, the House of Clicks is a residence any Swede would be happy to call their own.

Key Development: Data starts taking shape in beautiful creations by designers and architects.

Flavorize Me campaign from Talenti Gelato
Flavorize Me campaign from Talenti Gelato

July: Microsite Flavorise Me from ice cream company Talenti Gelato analyses users’ social media profiles to determine which flavour suits them best

Flavorise Me scans all of the user’s connected social media profiles for a set of 25,000 words that have ben assigned certain flavours. When the scan has been completed, the website presents the user with his or her own unique ice cream blend.

Key Development: Brands are using predictive algorithms in more playful and serendipitous ways to engage with younger audiences.

Eatsa, San Francisco Eatsa, San Francisco

October: Restaurant Eatsa uses personal data to create a frictionless dining experience

San Francisco’s Eatsa is designed to give time-poor customers the easiest way to enjoy a nutritious meal during their break. Customers place their order via a touchscreen and collect their meals from a cubbyhole delivery point. All orders are monitored to build a taste profile for each user, from which Eatsa can re-order or modify a customer’s last dish.

Key Development: Data is used in a way that evokes familiarity between the brand and the customer.

Constructing Connectivity by Jessica Smarsch at Dutch Design Week 2015, Eindhoven. Photography by Lisa Klappe.
Constructing Connectivity by Jessica Smarsch at Dutch Design Week 2015, Eindhoven. Photography by Lisa Klappe.

November: Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jessica Smarsch uses digital tools to bridge the gap between designer and machine

Using electrodes Smarsch captures the electrical impulses in the muscles between the wrists and elbow, and uses bespoke software to visualise the activity through a live generated animation, creating a graphic that is translated into a garment through an automated loom.

Key Development: Personalisation is going beyond the superficial and entering a more creative discourse that touches on our very biology.

The ‘Big Bang Data’ exhibition at Somerset House, London The ‘Big Bang Data’ exhibition at Somerset House, London

December: The Big Bang Data exhibition contemplates moments in history that have given rise to today’s data-driven society

The exhibition, held at Somerset House, examined the social and ethical implications of data hoarding, privacy and protection. Black Shoals: Dark Matter by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, for example, featured a planetarium-style projection of live trading data from stock markets from across the globe, creating a meditative space for reflection.

Key Development: Even the tokenistic act of taking a selfie is starting to be considered within the wider context of big data.


The Net Set app The Net Set app

January: LS:N Global examines how the distinction between social and commercial is blurring online

Platforms including Net-A-Porter’s The Net Set and tastemaking network Semaine point to a new form of e-commerce focused on generating sales through social interactions online. These exclusive social eco-systems are often invitation-only or opt-in, adding to their allure.

Key Development: S-commerce gives brands access to personal as well as group data, helping segment customers into tribes.

Kassem Younis Kassem Younis

February: Kassem Younis, founder of anonymous messaging app Thoughts Around Me, explains why data hoarding is bad for business

Younis believes we are seeing the fightback against first-wave internet companies that have over-reached into people’s personal lives. His anonymous messaging and sharing app Thoughts Around Me is built on trust, monetising data points that don’t need to be attached to personal information.

Key Development: Privacy is increasingly seen as the greatest luxury of the digital age and is becoming a big selling point for brands.

The Future of Parenting by Fischer Price and Continuum, US The Future of Parenting by Fischer Price and Continuum, US

March: Toy-maker Fisher-Price produces a video speculating on the relationship between parenting and play in 2025

The Future of Parenting imagines play time a decade from now with phygital, connected devices that use augmented and virtual reality. The video focuses on the potential for sensors to be built in to fixtures and furnishings to act as a powerful parenting tool, tracking elements of a child’s development and feeding back that data across interactive displays.

Key Development: Older generations could be increasingly complicit in the datafication of their children, if it affords them a way to be better parents.

Purify ad-blocking App, Global Purify ad-blocking App, Global

April: LS:N Global examines the rise of ad-blockers as people demand more privacy and less obtrusive advertising online

Ad-blockers represent a big problem for online publishers and advertisers that failed to respect people’s personal space online. ‘The question,’ says Joseph Evans, media research analyst at Enders Analysis,’ is whether all of the players in the digital advertising chain – advertisers, agencies and publishers – can create an experience that users find much less objectionable before simple and effective technological solutions to mobile advertising are given traction.’

Key Development: Brands are realising that they have to take a less myopic approach to online advertising and think about the bigger picture.

Tom Lancaster Image Tom Lancaster Image

May: Topman’s senior digital creative manager Tom Lancaster explains how to make millions of different customers feel like you are talking directly to them

Lancaster explains why Topman is placing its faith in programmatic advertising, which he believes is a 21st-century replacement to great media placement. ‘Don’t get too bogged down in trying to create something viral,’ he says. ‘It’s better to consistently drop new content, see what people engage with and learn from that.’

Key Development: Programmatic advertising enables retailers to pitch the perfect advert depending on location, demographic and style.

Lucy, Data Portraits by Margot Bowman and Raised by Wolves, UK Lucy, Data Portraits by Margot Bowman and Raised by Wolves, UK

June: Artist Margot Bowman examines the relationship between identity and algorithms for car-maker Mini

Data Portraits is a series of four GIFs depicting two sets of identical twins. To an algorithm the twins are indistinguishable, but to a human their unique personalities are easily apparent. The project is designed to raise questions about the way that humans are perceived by algorithms that are created to determine who we are and what our interests might be.

Key Development: The fallibility of algorithms is becoming a source of frustration for artists and creatives seeking a more emotional connection between man and machine.

Brave Ad blocker, US Brave Ad blocker, US

September: Brave is an ad-blocking web browser that will now pay publishers with Bitcoins.

In the US, 43m people will use ad-blockers in 2016, according to analytics firm Optimal. Brave is an ad-blocking platform with a difference, acknowledging the fact that this relatively recent technology is undermining existing business models, and may make it impossible for publishers who use ads to fund content. Brave automatically blocks ads, but creates a system of donations to get the funds back to publishers.

Key Development: Consumers are now aware that the online world is powered by their attention and are becoming increasingly savvy with how they distribute it. When they are committed to a product, however, they are still willing to pay.

I Spy (With My Five Eyes) documentary, UK I Spy (With My Five Eyes) documentary, UK

October: An interactive documentary series examines the phenomenon of mass surveillance

I Spy focuses on Five Eyes, an intelligence-gathering alliance between the NSA, the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). It brings together experts from both sides of the privacy-versus-security debate to give a variety of perspectives on the matter, and viewers can contribute their own opinions by posting comments on the documentary website.

Key Development: The balance between national security and online privacy continues to be a major talking point among consumers.

Discover More Trend Tracker
Gen Viz

Trend Tracker

Gen Viz

In 2016, LS:N Global coined the term Gen Viz to describe Generation D’s insatiable appetite for visual-first content, their hacker tendencies, DIY ...
Gen Viz : Teenagers : Generation D
Revelation Brands

Trend Tracker

Revelation Brands

Revelation Brands, identified by LS:N Global in 2015, explores how companies are helping consumers to escape the confines of their filter bubbles ...
Revelation Brands : Serendipity : Filter Bubble
The Optimised Self

Trend Tracker

The Optimised Self

Identified by LS:N Global in 2015, The Optimised Self charts a widespread consumer quest for personal optimisation.
The Optimised Self : Wellness : Health
Awakening Tech

Trend Tracker

Awakening Tech

Identified by LS:N Global in 2014, the Awakening Tech macrotrend explored how consumers are negotiating their identities in a digital world and h...
Sensor Technologies : Affective Computing : Living Architecture
The Flat Age Society

Trend Tracker

The Flat Age Society

In 2014, we identified The Flat Age Society, a group of optimistic and entrepreneurial consumers aged 60 and over who are creating a world in which...
The Flat Age Society : Boomers : Aging
The New Sublimity

Trend Tracker

The New Sublimity

Identified by LS:N Global in 2012, The New Sublimity macrotrend charted a widespread consumer movement away from busy, hyper-connected, digital ...
Suffocation : Spiritualism : Sublime
Rurban Revolution

Trend Tracker

Rurban Revolution

Identified by LS:N Global in 2010, Rurban = rural + urban. City dwellers are rejecting the impersonal bigness of globalisation and corporations, ...
Urban : Local : Growing
Beyond Retail

Trend Tracker

Beyond Retail

Beyond Retail was put to paper (or screen) in 2010, but is more of a constant, continuing study of the future of retail, how consumers are chan...
The Convergence Economy : Retail : Store Of Tomorrow
The Personal Information Economy

Trend Tracker

The Personal Information Economy

The Personal Information Economy (PIE), first identified by LS:N Global in 2011, refers to the increasing awareness among consumers of how valu...
PIE : Data : Commodity

Trend Tracker


Identified by LS:N Global in 2009, Bleisure – business + leisure – refers to the increasingly blurred lines in consumers’ lives between work an...
Business : Leisure : Work
You have 2 free News articles remaining. Sign up to LS:N Global to get unlimited access to all articles.

What do we use cookies for?

We use cookies to enable the use of our platform’s paid features and to analyse our traffic. No personal data, including your IP address, is stored and we do not sell data to third parties.

Learn more