It's become common in today's society that when a couple gets engaged, they are feted by friends and family, celebrations are planned, and they shout to the world at large that they are committing to each other for all eternity.
What if that same scenario were common in consumer packaged goods? Imagine what it could mean for retailers, if they were able to engage their customers for all eternity. The loyalty alone would be invaluable, not to mention the ability to better predict sales performance and essentially guarantee profits.
The reality of today's retail environment, however, is that shoppers can't be easily wooed into loyalty simply with shiny diamonds and parties. Retailers can't just show up and expect loyalty to happen, nor can they count on the consumers they do have to remain loyal. Consumers want more than just a pretty face–they want a retailer who listens, who pays attention to their needs. In short, consumers want a relationship. And savvy retailers are stepping up.
In late April 2015, Kroger bought assets from dunnhumbyUSA to create a new company called 84.51° that uses analytics and insights to improve customer engagement.
"We want everything we do–every decision we make–to be about the customer and what that person wants," Stuart Aitken, chief executive officer of 84.51°, said in a recent statement.
This consumer-focused attitude is growing momentum in retail, and means deploying a targeted, strategic plan on how to best engage customers and foster a loyal relationship with them.
RETAILER, KNOW THYSELF
Love yourself, and others will love you. That age-old advice holds up surprisingly well in retailing for developing a consumer engagement strategy. If retailers, whether big box stores or independents, don't know who they are, how are consumers going to get to know them, fall in love and commit?
"Establishing what you stand for is very similar, whether you're a one-store operator, small chain or multi-regional retailer," says Jim Hertel, managing partner of Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill. Consumers, he notes, shop for food six to eight times per month, hitting two to three different banners. Knowing yourself as a retailer, and establishing what you stand for, creates a stronger presence for consumers, and can intrigue and engage them, pulling them back into your store.
"The task is less about getting them in the door and more about earning the extra visit or two each month."