IBM Uses Social Media to Look at the Future of High Heels

It seems that every news cycle brings with it a trend piece about women’s fashion and what its latest manifestations portend, or reveal, about the current state of the broader economic climate. This cycle’s trend piece is here, and it comes courtesy of IBM — yes, that IBM.

IBM may not be the first brand that springs to mind when one thinks of fashion, but the famous technology firm took it upon itself to analyze, with the help of its analytics software, naturally, four years’ worth of social media content to gauge the winds of change in the height of women’s shoes, a pop economic indicator that sits right alongside red lipstick sales in econ books.

An IBM press release about the investigation stated that the social media posts analyzed numbered in the billions. Because their analysis suggests that heel height is declining, IBM’s cultural forecasters are also positing that people may be preparing for long-term austerity. The latter is on account of the observed heel height increase during economic downturns and flattening out during boom times.

But IBM had another aim in mind with its experiment: the promotion of its analytics tools. According to the same press release, the point of the investigation was to “highligh[t] the predictive capabilities of social media analysis as a source of valuable insight that can help drive business strategies and results.” IBM believes it has the tools marketers need to incorporate quantitative social media data into their business decisions.

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