Experience Design

Personalization is key to consumer engagement

The greatest thing about the Consumer Market’s industry is that we all have some level of understanding due to the fact that we are consumers.  Whether you are utilizing your smart phone, home computer, work computer, iPad or tablet you can connect and engage with brands no matter your location – the “always on” consumer.  I am a consumer, I know this market, and I have a unique point of view (being able to look at a retail store through two lenses) – I can go into a store as a consumer but also on the other end as a marketer and know how things come together to satisfy a consumer.
Companies need to leverage data to understand who we are as consumers and what our purchase behavior is.  Retailers are looking to differentiate themselves with shoppers and will invest in “recognizing” or knowing shoppers across platforms and routes to market and provide individualized, customized messaging and content through each.  A top priority for retailers is connecting those dots – breaking down internal organizational silos that limit cross-channel shopper engagement and create a comprehensive customer profile: relevant marketing and engagement messaging.  What is old is new….and personalization lies at the center of marketing strategies in 2014.  The shopping experience has clearly shifted and retailers need to invest appropriately in technology and marketing to make their services and benefits stand out in the marketplace.  But the difficulty with determining the future of omni-channel is that so many retailers are only just beginning to open up to the possibilities.  Personalization has become so important that consumers may actually find it offence when they do not receive ads that are not specific to them.  And I can honestly say that I am one of them and I did not even realize it!  It dawned on me that I get very annoyed when I receive an ad that I have no particular interest in at all so to my surprise, I realized how much I actually value receiving personalized information or ads from places that I frequently shop.
I brought up Sephora last week as a company that has really stepped up their game in regards to omni-channel strategies and using digital to drive their in-store traffic.  But they are also great at personalizing offers to their customers.  Personal beauty and fashion brands are paving the way with clienteling tactics to personalize the in-store experience.  When I want into a Sephora store, I am usually there to pick out a few different types of products (because they have most everything).  I was approached by the store associate who took me to a touchscreen kiosk to walk me through 3-4 simple questions about my preferences and beauty needs. The end result was a personalized list of the top-rated, bestselling mascaras and perfumes Sephora sold in-store and online. The store associate clicked on a few of her favorites and walked me to my selected products.  Had a store associate not been available, I could have used the barcode scanner to explore products on my own or order online.  Either way, it was great to have service that helped me designate exactly what I prefer and need.  When I got home, I had an email in my inbox with my receipt and more products that fit my wants and needs in a beauty product.  Sephora is moving towards enhancing its Beauty Insider loyalty program with more digital clienteling tactics geared for personalized in-store experiences. This is one of the biggest areas of opportunities for other retailers that are also committed to physical stores.

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