The term ?big data? has recently emerged to describe a range of technological and commercial trends enabling the storage and analysis of huge amounts of customer data, such as that generated by social networks and mobile devices. Much of the commercial promise of big data is in the ability to generate valuable insights from collecting new types and volumes of data in ways that were not previously economically viable. At the same time a number of questions have been raised about the implications for individual privacy. This paper explores key perspectives underlying the emergence of big data and considers both the opportunities and ethical challenges raised for market research.