Personalization and Relevancy Can Be a Game Changer for Independents
David Kiehle, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Smart.Market
Independent grocers are increasingly aware of the impact of industry disruption.
These retailers are facing a new landscape marked by emerging technologies, quickly changing consumer behaviors, and a wide range of traditional and nontraditional competitors building scale through acquisitions and organic growth.
This new environment creates challenges across the independents’ business, and a case in point is in marketing. Independents and their wholesalers are often lacking in resources and expertise. They typically don’t have big marketing budgets. Many don’t operate loyalty marketing programs. Most are without the teams of data analysts more typical of bigger chains. Some are still tied to weekly circulars that deliver the same offers across an entire market to an eroding base of newspaper subscribers.
How can independent retailers compete in this new environment with effective marketing resources and strategies?
Independents are expert at being relevant for their individual customer bases. However, increasingly they need to be on-target not just for their market as a whole, but for each household and each customer in that market. This requires a more sophisticated personalized approach to coupons and other offers, supported by technology. Independents often don’t know the best ways to get started down that path.
There are numerous methods to embracing personalized marketing, some effective, some not so effective. These employ a range of platforms, from digital to print. Independents need to ensure that a personalization strategy is really personal. That means it needs to be targeted to individual households and customers, rather than being merely a segmentation approach that addresses large groups of shoppers.
One of the most effective and cost-efficient personalization strategies is leveraging direct mail, a seemingly mature form of retail marketing, that can be transformed through data-driven personalization techniques to drive profits and traffic. Recent research from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) shows personalized direct mail campaigns can increase ROI from three to 10 times compared to traditional strategies.
Ironically, personalizing direct mail often results in a hybrid approach between print and digital. It’s actually digitally-driven print marketing. This approach leverages the best of print and digital through a state-of-the-art process called personalized variable direct mail. It not only outperforms traditional campaigns, but consistently outpaces online digital efforts as well.
The result can be a game changer for independent grocers. Here are five ways this kind of personalization can transform marketing for independents.
1-Accelerate Response Rates: Personalized variable direct mail can deliver double-digit response rates consistently, which is markedly higher than traditional direct mail.
2-Capture Performance Analytics: A personalized data-driven program should be able to provide back-end analytics to measure scores of events across a marketing calendar. Ideally a retailer should be able to leverage a database to match consumer purchasing habits back to the individual household level for each store location. This enables the retailer to learn more about its current customers by location and identify others that have similar characteristics and behaviors.
3-Blunt Competitor Strategies: Personalized variable direct mail can be effective in battling a range of competitors, from big chains to hard discounters. Making use of this strategy can help to neutralize new market entries by competitors while at the same time rewarding valued repeat shoppers.
4-Redefine Trade Areas: This personalized approach helps to establish and grow a primary trade area. It’s common to achieve material increases in unique shoppers with each campaign.
5-Engage with Customers: The point of a personalized program is to connect directly with individual customers and households to boost basket sizes. It’s also geared to supporting new customer acquisition by understanding the similarities your core shoppers have with those who are not currently your customers. Marketing pieces can be customized for a wide range of demographics and other attributes to boost performance. This strategy can be particularly effective in gaining the loyalty of millennial shoppers, who are famously resistant to brand loyalty.
About the Author
David Kiehle is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Smart.Market, Inc
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