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Consumer Expectations vs Overconfident Marketers

Ready to capture that Black Friday and Cyber Monday consumer data? Last year 243 million shoppers hit the stores over the four-day weekend – no doubt many of them will be loyal, return customers.

Collecting customer information in one place to provide personalized consumer experiences is at the core of most marketers' customer engagement strategies. That's because shoppers choose to return to these retailers, providing them with additional data including things like purchase history, communication preferences, and online shopping habits. Yet if customers come to feel like retailers don't understand who they are or what they need, that disconnect can put loyalty at odds, especially when other businesses are racing to catch up.

A study from Econsultancy and IBM reported that 81 percent of marketers believed their organization had "a view of individuals and segments across interactions and channels." But while most brands think that they already know and understand their customers, only 37 percent of consumers believe that their favorite retailers actually understand them.

How can you more fully capture your customer's preferences? And beyond capturing a breadth and depth of your customer's preferences, how can you ensure you have not only captured, but also reflected a unified view of him or her across channels. All the data in the world won't help if your customers don't recognize themselves in your company's interactions.

This disconnect between the understanding marketers have of their consumers and what the consumers actually want shows the urgent need for marketers to take action on the information they collect. But what does this disconnect mean: Do marketers truly not understand their customers? Or do consumers overestimate what retailers are capable of? Perhaps it's both.


Using preference management, which is the active management, maintenance, and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, retailers can address this issue at both ends.


On one hand, using preference management to collect consumer preferences can help marketers and the brands they represent create the more personalized buyer experience that their customers want. Giving consumers control over the conversation will also help marketers reassure their customers that their favorite brand is committed to gaining a better idea of what their customers want and need.



On the other end of the spectrum, preference management, when used correctly, can help retailers subtly show their customers a better idea of what level of consumer understanding they should realistically expect brands to have. One way they can do this is by letting their customers know during the collection process how they will use the gathered information.



So, how well do you really know your customers? Leverage the data your loyal customers are already giving you to create the personal experience they want and they'll keep coming back for more.




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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