The role of data in retail advertising.

Recently we were lucky enough to attend a Westfield Retail Breakfast, where four esteemed international retail experts took to the stage to share their knowledge on the changing face of retail. Amongst these speakers was James Stewart, who spoke to the importance of data in the future of smart marketing in the retail environment.

As we know, the world of retail is changing. Demand is ever increasing for consumers to have the ability to select the content they want, at a time that’s suitable to them. Consumers are coming to expect tailored messaging, including personalised product selections, offers and communications – that recognize their interests, location and purchasing habits (they expect this if we are gathering data on them – they assume we know how to use it).

Whether we like it or not, the days of formulaic promotional plans are on their way out (albeit with a long tail). The longer it takes retailers to come to terms with this, that the “spray” approach is no longer effective, the higher chance consumers will flock to competitors who have personalized, clearly relevant offerings.

In order to compete in this landscape, Stewart advocated that retailers must commit to utilizing their data to reinvent their relationships with customers. Speaking to people at the right time, in the right channel, with the right offer, is paramount.

At the Westfield event, James Stewart went on to propose that the most advanced retail brands not only look at what their customers are buying and what combination of items are being purchased, but what else they buy and with whom. For instance, social networking has allowed retailers access to a huge amount of consumer habits, preferences and information – if they’re willing to trawl through it!

In taking an honest look at the market, it’s fair to say that at the moment only a few NZ retailers are in a position to offer such intelligent communications – but the good news is – overseas there aren’t many who are just yet! Of the top retailers in the USA, less than 20% have executed a big data project. So it’s very much a time of first mover advantage.

There are seldom opportunities like this to grow market share – that’s why ‘big data’ makes us very excited. In the very near future, using and analysing data to create effective communications will be the norm. And the sooner this is taken up, the greater chance retailers will have over their competitors at succeeding.

Check out these smart overseas marketers, who are already tapping into their data to tailor their customer messaging: – Customizing content to the individual based on purchase history

Nordstrom – Using analytics to identify: – What products to promote – To which customers – Via what channel

Uniqlo Department store – tailoring the whole store’s offering based on data analysis of its surrounding community.

And keep an eye on both the .99 and justONE blogs for more on these and local players adopting these principles.

Author: Morgan O’Reilly