Data science meets Shopkins

Data science meets Shopkins

This post was originally published on the IBM Center for Applied Insights website.  The CAI website was officially sunset on 4/15/16.  While it remains online, I’m moving some of my posts from the CAI site over here in case they decide to take the site offline at some point in the future.

Recently, I went to dinner with some coworkers, and they talked about how their daughters are both into Shopkins. Since I had no idea what Shopkins were, they explained to me that they’re little collectible figurines based on various food and home goods. An entire set would include about 150 figurines. And they’re sold “blind,” typically in two-packs, so you never know which figurines you’re purchasing.

shopkins
Photo Credit: shopkinsworld.com

After a couple of quick Internet searches, I was floored by how popular these toys are. As an example, I came across this 58-minute video of somebody opening a case (30) of these two-packs. It has over 9 million views.  Let me say that one more time: an hour-long video of somebody doing nothing but opening up packages of Shopkins has over 9 million views.

 

So these toys are obviously really popular, but the most interesting part of this to me is the blind two-packs. This sales approach begs the question: how many packs need to be purchased to collect the entire set? Since they come in pairs, the bare minimum to collect all 150 Shopkins is 75 packs. But realistically, we know there are going to be some duplicates. You would need to purchase more packs if you want to collect all the figurines. But how many more exactly?

Continue reading “Data science meets Shopkins”

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How a data scientist buys a car

How a data scientist buys a car

This post was originally published on the IBM Center for Applied Insights website.  The CAI website was officially sunset on 4/15/16.  While it remains online, I’m moving some of my posts from the CAI site over here in case they decide to take the site offline at some point in the future.

Last year, I set out to buy a used car. This wasn’t just any car. It would be the vehicle for a long-planned, off-road expedition to Arizona and Utah with my brother, and for many other off-road adventures in the coming years.

I had set my sights on a 1998-2007 Toyota Land Cruiser or the Lexus LX470—both well regarded in off-road circles. However, due to a number of factors, there’s often limited market availability, which makes it difficult to put an accurate price on them. As I began my search, I found significant price variations from standard pricing guides—by as much as $10,000 in some cases.

What’s a data scientist to do? Get some data and build a model of course.

Continue reading “How a data scientist buys a car”