Simon Kendrew, digital director at Leeds-based advertising agency, Gratterpalm, looks at how new marketing and advertising trends can help retailers reach out to each and every one of their customers
There is no longer any such thing as the ‘average shopper’. Looking at the 12 months ahead, this will be the year when retailers need to get personal and treat their customers as individuals – or risk losing them altogether. In their search for richer retail experiences, shoppers expect retailers to provide them with personalised messaging – both on and offline.
Personalise the shopping experience
Consumers are increasingly blocking out marketing and advertising messages which they don’t think are relevant to them. As such, retailers need to deliver a more personalised and relevant shopping experience. A good place to start is to understand the detailed makeup of the high street throughout the day, week, month and year; and adapt window displays to reflect the real time mood of the audience.
Once retailers understand who they are trying to communicate with, they need to understand how to communicate to them – and it’s unlikely two different demographics will respond in the same way to the same message. One way to effectively tailor marketing and advertising messages is through digital signage.
For example, Gratterpalm is currently helping Asda to tickle its customers’ taste buds with new digital POS, which are being trialled in a number of the supermarket’s stores. Although the digital signage is currently being managed by Gratterpalm centrally through a web-based CMS system, they could also be managed through other devices, such as smart phones, or even be linked to live information feeds such as sales and stock data or weather sensors. Just think – when the temperature drops outside, the digital POS could change to tempt people to warm up with a bowl of homemade soup.
Changing in-store marketing and advertising messages to coincide with various external and internal factors is just the start of digital in-store marketing. Technology and market research will continue to become more sophisticated, enabling retailers to use techniques such as face detection and demographic analysis to present targeted ads to people as they shop in the real world. This will be a key opportunity for retailers in 2012 and beyond.
Face detection technology has already evolved to recognise whether a person is smiling or not. Imagine what this could result in if it was linked up to other technologies such as weather sensors – someone walks passed frowning on a miserable January afternoon and they are suddenly presented with an advert for a Caribbean holiday, or a person walks by with a big smile on their face on a summer’s day and then an advert for a nearby beer garden appears. With such technology already being used, it’s easy to see how retailers can localise and personalise the shopping experience for their consumers.
What’s more, with some online channels, such as Facebook, already using face recognition to automatically tag photos, it may not be that far off before digital signage is able to recognise who consumers actually are and tailor the marketing messages even more specifically depending on their age, profession, what they’ve recently bought and what they’re peers are currently up to.
The f Factor
While consumers aren’t necessarily interested in what retailers have got to say to the public en mass, they are interested in what their peers are thinking, saying and buying. As such, retailers are increasingly tapping into the power of the f factor – where friends, followers and fans on social networks influence how and why consumers purchase goods. When consumers log on to some retailers’ websites, they are presented with a list of their friends that have liked or recently bought a product. While this is becoming more popular online, the next step for retailers will be to deliver the same level of personalisation on the high street.
Linking the on- and offline shopping experience is a trend that has already started to emerge and it is only going to increase as technology becomes smarter and more affordable. With a digital marketing system that can recognise an individual’s smart phone, personalised offers can be sent to their phone as they shop, and they could instantly be shown what their peers have recently bought or recommended online.
By using technology to tailor messages to consumers, retailers can help them make the right purchasing decision quickly and efficiently – which is becoming increasingly important as people’s shopping habits change.
Personality = profit
Every customer is an individual and it’s key retailers show empathy with them and place humility, humour and care at the core of their marketing messaging.
Using in-store communications, such as digital POS, retailers must be human and bring their personality into their marketing messages. It’s important that the messages should be simple, relevant and engaging.
With today’s busy lifestyles, consumers generally have less time. They’re working longer hours, taking shorter lunch breaks and want to use the little spare time they do have smartly. Retailers must, therefore, help to deliver an outstanding, personal and seamlessly integrated on and offline shopping and customer service experience. High street retailers have the opportunity to build personalised, one to one relationships with their shoppers through providing bespoke packages, shopping solutions and services that make the shopping experience enjoyable, easy and hassle free.
By tailoring packages and promotions based on the needs of the shopper and the local environment, the high street retailer offer can excel and provide consumers with the retail experience they want and will keep coming back for.