Five trends that are shaping retail marketing
Major trends have already taken shape in the last year. Some retailers will emerge as big winners, while others will undoubtedly see their customers flock elsewhere.
Retail marketing is always evolving with new technologies and changing customer needs forcing retailers and brands to adapt quickly or face extinction. Here’s what you need to know about the five trends that are changing the shape of shopper marketing and setting the pace in this new era.
1. Authenticity is at the heart of it all
Simply put it is not about the brand it is all about the consumer. Brands need to give consumers a reason to care about them and their products. They need to know their customer, their needs and how best to communicate effectively across all channels, whether this is online or offline in brick and mortar stores. Traditional push marketing techniques, such as brand storytelling are redundant today, with educated consumers placing more emphasis on what brands stand for and what a product will do for them. If brands deliver on what they say they promise, whether that is in terms of ethical values or product capability – they have achieved authenticity.
Similarly, brands that instigate conversation, adopt a personality and actively engage with consumers create greater authenticity and resonate better with consumers. Consumers want to feel like they know a brand and that the brand knows them, a familiar tone of voice and meaningful relevant content can go a long way to help achieving this. Brands that are honest in their interactions and in their values cultivate a better sense of authenticity. However, this honesty is easy to test in a world where customers can quickly search and verify whether what a brand says is true – trust can be lost as easily as is gained, with the click of a button.
2. Experiential marketing trumps price
Price is no longer the most important differentiator. Consumers are all about the shopper experience. If you want to create a lasting impression on consumers, an in person experience is far more memorable than an easily forgettable digital experience that is often buried among many others on a newsfeed. Live interaction helps build an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. Immersive and multi-sensory activities are what consumers remember, look at Waitrose in the UK – they offer free cups of coffee to all shoppers making the overall shopping experience more pleasant. These days you will not find a grocery store without an adjoining restaurant, coffee shop, or tasting section, offering customers the opportunity to satisfy the very appetite that motivated them to come to the store in the first place as well as enhancing their overall shopper experience.
3. Personalization is more important than ever
With the rise of the omni-channel shopper, it is vital that brands create greater personalization to connect with their customers. Customers like to be recognized, they are individualists when they shop and want to feel like brands understand their personal needs and preferences. Predictive recommendation models in retail marketing have been around for years and they work, but retailers need to take this to the next level and look at ways to use all of the data they have collected to create real-time interactions with customers throughout the buying journey – not just online. The most important purchasing decisions are made in store and this should not be forgotten, real-time mobile interaction while customers are deliberating on a purchase, could be the final push needed for a sale to get over the finish line.
4. Proximity marketing unites online and offline
There has been a rapid rise in the use of beacons by brands and retailers alike, looking to take advantage of both the demographic and psychographic data, they have already collected and the data they can collect as consumers shop. Beacons allow brick and mortar stores to offer personalized promotions to consumers as soon as they near or enter a store. Shoppers can receive an SMS or email offering them a discount or tailored offering related to their previous online searches or in store activities. Beacons can seamlessly connect the online and offline, allowing retailers and brands to map a customer’s journey around a store collecting information on which sections or aisles they spend the longest in. Once collected, this data can be used together with data gathered online to send customized offers to customers.
5. Don’t forget your people
With technology innovation allowing for the convergence of offline and online, the point of purchase in store has never been so important. Customers expect the informative and personalized approach they receive online to be replicated in store, with the onus on sales people to deliver the same messaging and information coupled with the human interaction that only deepens the emotional connection between customer and brand. As retailers cut back on personnel, those that they do have need to be at the top of their game. The expectation of the level of customer service has risen in retail marketing, and retailers can ill afford to neglect this area as it forms an integral part of the in store shopper experience.
Authentic shopper marketing experience through data and people
As mobile continues to dominate, consumers are looking for more meaningful shopper experiences that stretch from online to offline seamlessly. The emphasis is on authenticity and brands being true to their identity as well as their customers. As such, brands need to look at creating shopper experiences that reflect their personality and give customers an experience at every touch point. While it is easy to get carried away with data and technology, you cannot forget the people in store who make up for the authenticity technology lacks.
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