There’s nothing more crucial to retailers than how well they understand the consumer.
Understanding consumers in a complex world is no easy feat. Consumers have become more selective, independent and self-servicing. Simultaneously, technology has transformed how consumers, shop for, share and recommend products. To influence purchasing decisions today–retailers must be perceptive enough to anticipate and respond to consumer wants, needs and desires before the act of browsing even begins.
Earlier this year, IBM conducted a study which revealed that today’s digital era is transforming the CMO’s agenda. The research revealed that while 82 percent of chief marketing officers said they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years, only 26 percent maintained that they tracked blogs, and less than half tracked third party reviews (42 percent) and consumer reviews (48 percent) to help shape their marketing strategies.
Is this a glaring gap? Perhaps.
Social media is poised to be the biggest driver of change to influence the nature of customer relationships. Customers are widely advocating their experiences with various products and services online — and gaining more control and influencer over brands. The shopping world is transforming from the market of “me” to communities of “we.”
At the same time, consumers are asking retailers and businesses for greater communication, engagement and support. They are volunteering to give up their personal information, in exchange for promotions of certain goods and services. They want their preferences to be known.
All of this is a gift – a remarkable source of insight that retailers can tap to refine their marketing strategies to become more relevant, appealing and successful.
The opportunity is there for retailers to seize. Part of doing that will require organizations to embrace new marketing approaches, tools and skills. To manage this influx of data – 90 percent of all real-time information is created by unstructured data sets online – retailers will have to invest in the right technologies and arm the right people with these tools,
If they can do this, the rewards will be high. The feedback collected from online communities will be more valuable and insightful than what any average focus group will ever reveal.
The future will be governed by how businesses can use technology to unlock the mysteries of consumer behavior. Those that can use the intelligence wisely will be able to increase revenue, customer loyalty and progressively build their brands.
Author Name:Jill Puleri, GBS Global Retail Leader