The Direct-to-Consumer Paradox; What Should CPGs Do?

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Ecommerce has settled in for the long haul, which is great news for consumers.

But what about big brands?

With the luxury of near endless choice now available at the touch of a button (or even a voice command), there is less need for people to go to physical stores or to buy known brands.  Along with the explosion of drop shipping, the face of commerce has changed dramatically.

CPG companies are not immune from this shift. After having avoided selling direct-to-consumers (DTC) so as not to compete with their retail partners, many are rethinking their strategies.

For many CPG companies to survive – much less prosper – adding a DTC approach may be their only viable option.

Is DTC Right for All CPG Companies?

Before we describe how your CPG company could wade into the DTC waters, it’s best to first establish whether or not it’s a good idea.

As we’ll touch on below, taking a DTC approach doesn’t necessarily mean competing head-to-head with retailers.

The key to deciding how far to go is by first establishing what role a DTC channel must play. In short, does your company want this channel to help with:

  • Discovering Greater Insights and Innovation

  • Controlling the User Experience

  • Leveraging an Omnichannel Approach

  • Overtaking the Retailer

In the case of that fourth approach, it would mean competing directly with current retail partners.

Once you’ve established what your goal is for DTC, you can begin considering which strategy to adopt.

4 Ways CPG Companies Can Take a DTC Approach

The most obvious problem that a CPG manufacturer will run into when they go DTC is the conflict with their retail partners.

To succeed, these companies need to adopt certain strategies that have already proven to be effective in the world of DTC.

Fortunately, there are four direct-to-consumer approaches that many CPG companies have already adopted and found effective for their transition.

1. Discovering Greater Insights and Innovation

Arguably, one of the greatest opportunities for CPG companies looking to transition into DTC is to learn more about their end-users. This will allow them to create better products and nurture greater trust in their companies.

2. Controlling the User Experience

Research by Salesforce found that 75% of people expect a consistent experience from brands. If you want more control over your brand story, DTC marketing will allow you to communicate your message directly to customers.

3. Leveraging Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel retail may be the future, one in which companies engage with customers online before directing them to a brick-and-mortar environment to make their purchases. Manufacturers don’t necessarily need to go to war with retailers. By taking this approach, they can simply drive greater sales while growing their ecommerce footprint.

4. Overtaking the Retailer

Of course, for many CPG companies that first adopt omnichannel marketing, the natural next step will be overtaking retailers. Unless a product needs to be test-driven, tried on, or otherwise seen in-person, these companies will have very little reason to justify the overhead their retail-partners require.

Standing Still Is Not an Option

CPG manufacturers can no longer rely on retail partners to build up their audiences. Instead, they must look for long-term solutions, which guarantee their longevity and sustained success.

One thing these companies cannot do is simply keep up business as usual.

By engaging the market with a DTC approach, big manufacturers risk upsetting some retailers, but they also stand a lot to gain. Not only will they know more about their customers, but they can focus more on their brand story and engagement.

There are much larger profit margins to look forward to, as well.

Developing Strong Insights in the World of Marketing

 Consumers in Action

Consumers in Action

Throughout my Marketing career, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a conversation with a client or colleague about insights. How are they defined? How are they developed? What’s the difference between a shopper insight and a consumer insight? What is the role of insights in Marketing? Merriam-Webster outlines the definition of insight as, “the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.” Uncovering and defining insights plays an important role in Marketing, whether we are working on a new idea or concept, developing strategy for an item or brand launch, going to market with a new product or understanding current mindsets and behaviors of a target audience. True insights are backed by the proper time, effort and methodology that allow us to peek inside the minds of those we are trying to reach. It’s understanding how beliefs drive behavior – more specifically, what your target audience believes about you. It’s bridging the gap between behavior and beliefs.

Methodology techniques for developing insights can range greatly based on a number of factors including brand, category, budget and approach. Both quantitative and qualitative research, along with multiple internal and external data analytics, are studied to develop insights about what your target audience believes and why they behave as they do. Focus groups, shop-alongs, test labs, market basket or transaction data and loyalty program analysis are just some of the tools we use to help build true insights. A good mix of quantitative and qualitative data ensures no one gets too caught up in the numbers and statistics or, alternatively, focuses too much on perceptions and opinions.

I covered the definition of insights along with a topline snapshot of their development, but some of the most compelling conversations I mentioned above have been around exploring the distinction between shopper insights and consumer insights. Brands often try to tease out the differences between these two segments with the belief that consumers behave differently when shopping different retailers and channels. Someone shopping for cereal at Walmart may be driven solely by price, whereas someone shopping for cereal at Target may be driven by the treasure hunt and delight of buying a brand that isn’t on their list. And how is this different from shopping for cereal at Whole Foods? How about Costco? Or the .com channel? The differences lie in that consumer insights care about the brand experience, regardless of where it happens. Shopper insights are focused on what happens during the shopping experience. Shopper insights ask what, how, when and why people spend their money. Consumers insights seek to understand what emotion is evoked, what need state is satisfied or how the brand is perceived – without as much attention as to where that is happening.

Insights are one of the most fascinating parts of Marketing, in my humble opinion. Maybe it’s the anthropologist in me, but understanding behaviors and patterns, along with where it happens, is extremely interesting. Marketing without insights is comparable to action without vision. Each purchase transaction, click of the mouse or behavior observed gives us another opportunity to understand the beliefs and behaviors of those we are trying to reach.

Augmented Reality and the Future of Pushing Products

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This morning I saw a news segment on the “new” augmented reality technology being brought to your phone. Not the Pokémon Go or iPhone X video games that we’ve seen in the last few years…think deceased rapper hologram – but on a way smaller scale. You record yourself doing a dance and place this prism on your screen surface to see a one-inch hologram of yourself. Pretty anti-climactic. But it got me thinking how eventually this will be everywhere to push products, but how do you break out of it just being noise?

We have already seen home décor websites show you “what this furniture will look like in your home” or paint samples at Home Depot by uploading a picture of your living room and changing the color of the walls. I even came across fashion designers implementing it in shops to show you what you would look like in that perfect dress….sans bad lighting and unwanted curves. Or the “you should buy the bag” reco.

But for the daily grocery trip, wouldn’t it be awesome if we had this in a few different ways?

If you were walking down the frozen food aisle and a life-size hologram of a woman popped up in front of your cart – it would scare the crap out of you! But, if as you walked by, a transparent computer screen on the glass read the SKU’s in your cart and your personal shopper appears on screen saying “Hey, I see you are buying frozen pie crusts, try this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie” and on the back of the recipe is a coupon for a frozen vegetable mix. Or co-branded with that and cream of chicken soup to share costs and build partnerships. To take it a step further, could we also have a co-branded print ad that you place your phone or tablet over and the hologram of the products mixing together in a bowl appears. Like a fancier QR code, but those prisms we talked about would have to get a lot bigger, or our tablets will need to get a whole lot cooler – and you know they will!

Let’s try a different approach. I came across this as an Instagram ad comparing the nutritional values of various trendy pre-made cauliflower pizza crusts. When you see the comparison, you would instantly go for the advertiser’s product based on nutritional value. Well, after spending 10 minutes going to each website and realizing – maybe for cost-effectiveness, I would need to meet in the middle somewhere. Now, if I did this at the grocery store – I would probably be at the wrong one. Let’s go to the convenient breakfast foods aisle. I walk up to a (sanitized) screen and select “Gluten-free, Peanut Free, cereal” and my options appear as holograms that I can “turn” the products with my fingers and the differentiators pop-up along with the price point, and whether a coupon is available – that I can print right there. How cool is that?

It sounds far off but with how fast technology is moving, growing and becoming more-competitive – it makes it more accessible and cost-effective. Especially if our advertisers are partnering up.

The Proliferation of Meal Kits and the Potential Disruptors of Continued Expansion

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Over the past few years you may have noticed the number of headlines touting the latest entrants into the meal kits business; from retailers such as Walmart and Amazon, to manufactures like Weight Watchers and online subscription services such as Terra’s Kitchen.  It seems everyone wants a piece of the $5 billion (and growing) meal kits market; an industry pioneered in the US in 2012 by Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated.

But like so many things today, could advances in technology prove more attractive to consumers – especially Millennials - who have been one of the key forces in the meal kits revolution?  Maybe one or more of the below innovations will prove to be the disruptive force that topples the business of meal kits, or potentially proves to be a complementary approach that propels the industry even further…

Image Recognition

Also known as computer vision, image recognition refers to the ability of a computer to “see” or translate the information fed to it from an image (still, video, graphic or even live).

Example: At CES this year Yummly and Whirlpool introduced an app that can scan the items you have on hand then recommend recipes based on what is often a mishmash of ingredients. 

Consideration: Who needs a meal kit to inspire unique and tasty creations? 

Delivery Bots

Currently only legal in five states (Virginia, Idaho, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio), delivery robots are small, electric-powered ground rovers equipped with a number sensors that allow them to navigate sidewalks at pedestrian speeds (4 mph).  They can make one small delivery at a time, in about 20 minutes from the time an order is placed, and are believed by many to be revolutionary to last-mile delivery fulfillment.

Example: Starship Technologies began testing delivery bots in Washington D.C. about one year ago with on-demand delivery service Postmates.  The city only allowed five total bots to be used at any given time during what was the pilot of the PDD program (Personal Delivery Device).  To date, the bots have made over 7,000 deliveries, with just three collisions (all of which were deemed to be the fault of drivers that did not yield to the “pedestrian” bots), and D.C. is extending the program.

Consideration: If you have a craving to slurp ramen tonight, you can get it from your favorite noodle parlor or convenience store in under a half hour, without leaving the house.  Why worry about having the time or desire to make the Bacon and Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken with Broccolini Radish and Wheatberry that’s waiting in your fridge.

Smart Locks + Cloud Cams

Smart locks allow keyless entry into your home, while cloud cams are basically security cameras.  Linking of the two technologies enables monitored in-home delivery. 

Example: In addition to allowing an Amazon Fresh delivery driver access into your home to put all of the perishables that were ordered into the refrigerator/freezer, Amazon Key is integrating with over 1,200 service providers, like in-home chefs, to grant them access as well.

 Consideration: Why let someone else determine what you’re going to eat?  Like in a restaurant, you decide, and let that someone else do the planning and prep.

3D Food Printers

A 3D food printer works like a regular 3D printer with one primary exception – the printer uses food instead plastic.  And the benefits are numerous: personalized and precise nutrition; unusual food composition; unique designs and textures; easy food prep; novelty; etc.

Example: Natural Machines, makers of the Foodini, advertise the printer as a “new generation kitchen appliance that combines technology, food, art and design… manage the difficult and time-consuming parts of food preparation that often discourage people from creating homemade food.”  The Foodini is currently only available direct from the manufacturer.

Consideration: Even if 3D food printing turns out to be time consuming and expensive, the social clout gained has got to be greater than that to be had in perfecting Pork Florentine with Grains and Zucchini.

What are your thoughts?  Could any of these technologies curtail the demand for meal kits? Or could one or more aid in stimulating the industry’s growth even further?

The Evolution of Grocery Shopping

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Grocery shopping definitely isn’t what it used to be. When I was a kid in the early 80’s, my mother would toss my brother and I into our family minivan and we’d drive to our local grocery store for the weekly stock-up trip. She would have her coupons and ads in hand, ready to save and take advantage of weekly sales. She usually shopped on auto-pilot and rarely veered from the list. She was budget conscious yet brand loyal. She purchased many of the brands my grandmother used because they were trusted, familiar and nostalgic. I never noticed her (or any other shoppers around us, for that matter) paying especially close attention to things like package labels, ingredients, colorings or additives. And when she would make her way to the checkout line, my mother would pay by writing a paper check made out to the supermarket, finally recording it in her balance ledger before we left. Maybe, if my brother and I were well behaved, we earned a gumball from the machine on our way out.

As much as I don’t like to date myself, this sounds pretty antiquated – doesn’t it? The landscape of grocery shopping has evolved by leaps and bounds since I was a child. It goes without saying that the “pay-by-paper-check” times are (mostly) behind us, and that no checkout line is equipped without a credit card machine, most recently with a chip reader. Today’s grocery stores also have express checkout lines for shoppers popping in for a quick trip, reinforcing that shopping behaviors extend beyond the weekly stock up trip. Consumer habits have changed.

I now walk the grocery aisles with my own children in tow (but no family minivan yet) and the brands are shouting at us from the shelves, begging for consideration to try or switch or save. Words and trends like superfood, organic, antioxidants, non GMO, gluten free, probiotics, Whole 30 and vegan are seen on product packaging and shelf signage throughout the store. Brands now promote sweepstakes, partnerships or exclusive offers, asking shoppers to scan a code or go online. Consider the fact that in the mid ‘70’s, the typical grocery store featured less than 9,000 products. Today, that number is closer to 45,000 different items. There are more brand choices (and brand messages) than ever.

Or you know what? Modern times allow us to skip the long (or express) checkout all together. Many retailers are now embracing online grocery shopping, including grocery giants like Whole Foods and Walmart. Recent studies show that about 23% of American households are now choosing and buying their groceries online, according to a 2017 study by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen. Still, many shoppers are resistant to such tech-savvy buying patterns simply because of their desire to see, touch and engage with the product or brand in-person – especially when it comes to produce or meat products. And what would modern times be without Amazon swooping in to save the day by delivering a unique solution for long checkout lines with their Amazon Go “Just Walk Out” technology.

The retail evolution over the past 3 decades is astounding. As I reflect back on my mother’s grocery trips and how different my shopper buying patterns are, I can’t help but wonder if those were simpler times. Shoppers today have many more options and much more at their fingertips, including the click of a digital button to endless product options to skipping the checkout line all together. While more convenient, with that comes a sometimes-dizzying world filled with multiple options, brand messages and buzzwords across categories. How does a brand or product break through the clutter? We’ll save that for the next episode.

7 Ways Amazon Go Will Change Shopper Marketing

 Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

In case you missed it, on January 22, 2018 Amazon opened it’s pilot Amazon Go store in Seattle, WA, also the home of Amazon headquarters. Amazon Go is Amazon’s answer to the traditional corner grocery store and as with most Amazon products it is disruptively innovative. Think for a minute back to when Amazon was founded in 1994 and started taking away business from small local bookstores by selling books online. That was Jeff Bezos’ entry point to enticing the customer through convenience.

“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” – Larry Page, CEO Google

Since then Amazon has grown like a cancer into almost every area of our lives and it all has to do with making the customer’s life easier. Yet in the background the giant retailer was secretly not only learning the shopping habits of each customer, but saving the data for being able to predict trends and to facilitate revenue from advertising in addition to the profit margins.

Think Amazon Prime – free shipping was a game changer. Since shipping was free (if you could justify needing to buy more than $99 worth of shipments in a year), people started to shop more on Amazon. It’s another win-win. Amazon gets more sales, customer gets free shipping, Amazon gets more customer data.

The website is so convenient and disruptive too. Not only are there reviews, but Amazon (like Alexa) will recommend similar products based on your previous buying history and what others like you have purchased. As a consumer you feel like Amazon is your very own personal shopper, always recommending the best items and finding the right deals.

Furthermore, Amazon Marketplace sells used items and products from third party retailers giving the consumer access to the largest online marketplace in the world.

“What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you… you have to lean into that and figure out what to do.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com

So what is this new concept, Amazon Go?

The innovation of Amazon Go lies in the fact that shoppers use the Amazon Go app on their phones to check-in to the store and this means they don’t have to check-out via the standard line at a register. Hence the “Just Walk-out Shopping” tagline. “No lines. No checkout. (No seriously.)”

The app on the phone works with cameras throughout the store and according to the app “uses technologies similar to those used in self-driving cars: computer-vision, sensor fusion and deep learning.” As a customer, you are charged based on what you take off the shelves, but the invoice only appears after you leave the store. If you take something off the shelf and change your mind about buying it, just put it back, no problem. Amazon Go understands. So you just tap your app upon entry into the store, grab whatever you need and walk out. For your first time visit, I imagine it feels a bit like stealing. And for those of us who love the idea of frictionless experiences, I imagine it feels quite liberating.

I imagine anyone in loss prevention is wondering about the potential for increased theft. I’m sure Amazon has had to think through many potential risks, like power outages, loss of internet connection, phone battery failure etc. What would happen if you switched your phone off mid-shopping at the store?

 photo credit: Shutterstock.com

photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Amazon Go, removes even the sense of having to pay for something. There is no transaction other than a quick check on your app to see if you were charged for everything correctly and over time, that need to verify will fade as customers trust their convenient and fast corner Amazon Go store more and more.

How will Amazon Go Change Shopper Marketing?

  1. Convenience will become a commodity
    Since Amazon is no longer just an online retailer after acquiring Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion in 2017, I predict we will see a lot more Amazon Go like features in Amazon’s brick and mortar locations. We may even start see the Amazon Go app made available in Whole Foods locations. Imagine being at your local Whole Food Store waiting in line to check out and seeing people just walking out with their groceries. Yup, my jaw would be dropping too. I would definitely want that app and use it unless of course it got too popular and the lines to get into the store are just as bad as the lines to check out.

    Shoppers will expect other retailers to follow Amazon’s lead and we’ll start to see Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger and Costco introducing apps or enhancing their existing ones to facilitate the checkout-free shopping experience.
     
  2. There will be different levels of convenience stores
    No app, no phone, no entry. Without a phone, shoppers will be prohibited from the store. This means that Amazon Go stores and any copycats will cater to a more affluent audience. The rollout of similar stores will likely start in the most metropolitan areas and neighborhoods where early-adopter techie types live or work. This may further increase shopper marketers’ ability to target based on income and location.

    Grocery stores with longer lines will face competition from those with the Amazon technology enabling the check-out free experience.
     
  3. Amazon data will become the new shopper marketing gold
    Since Amazon started in the digital space, it understands the value of data probably better than any other company on the planet and it has perfected personalization. Amazon bases decisions for innovation and growth on data and intelligence and it understands the needs of 21st century shoppers.

    The reliance on data will further increase the need for shopper marketing teams to have data scientists on board to work with shopper marketing strategists on the best ways to promote your product. The pay to play model will dominate and brands that can afford to promote products on Amazon will have the advantage.

    Amazon makes everything super convenient, yet it also holds all of its data very securely, i.e. it is not sharing information with other shopper marketing organizations and therefore in order to promote a product Amazon will ultimately be able to charge more for businesses to get their products in Amazon Go stores as well as in the online catalog.
     
  4. Convenience in exchange for privacy
    Convenience is something people are willing to pay for even it means they are paying for it with their privacy. Skip ahead to when there are as many Amazon Go stores as Starbucks. Since Amazon will know what each customer likes to purchase AND they have the customer’s order history, the ability to target a specific type of customer will become increasingly more sophisticated. Not only will Amazon know what you have just purchased, it will be able to predict when you may be likely to purchase the same item again and send incentives if their predictions are not met.

    Imagine listening to Amazon’s Alexa and her asking you if you would like to order anything you just recently purchased at an Amazon Go store for delivery via Amazon Prime.
     
  5. In App and mobile advertising will increase
    Since Amazon knows where people are when they are checking into a particular store, it can offer push notifications that are geo-fenced to specific stores to increase product trial or incentivize customers to impulse buys. This will be one of the advertising options for shopper marketers.
     
  6. A Cash-free and cardless society and increased use of couponing apps
    Because people will be able to pay on their phone, fewer people will carry cash or even credit cards on them. This means there will be increased usage of couponing apps like Ibotta and Checkout51.
     
  7. Different placement for impulse or last minute buys
    Since there is no checkout stand, those magazine and candy bars that are ever-present at the checkout lines will be a thing of the past. Unless of course Amazon Go starts putting them near the exits. Then we’ll see true impulse buys, because there will be less time for consumers to think about what they are buying. Speed shopping will become a trend giving a whole new meaning to the phrase grab-‘n-go.

    “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” – Bill Gates

Whether you want the experience of purchasing groceries with a person checking you out at a register or not, time is what most of us want more of. Amazon Go is a small nod to this need and a big step towards understanding more about you to enhance personalized marketing. I am excited to see how this future unfolds. How do you think it will look?

Crafting the Ideal O2OPUS (Online-to-Offline Pop Up Shop)

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I’m a huge fan of the O2O (online-to-offline) revolution; even if the acronym has drawn some criticism.  What I really love is when it manifests in the form of a pop-up shop or O2OPUS (now there’s an abbreviation truly deserving of condemnation).  Like so many, I’m a sucker for the whole “here today, gone tomorrow” concept.  I mean who doesn’t want to be one of the lucky few to experience something truly unique (Instagramable at that)?  Regretfully, many of the pop-ups I’ve paid a visit were a serious letdown. 

Rather than list their failings, I’m instead going to outline what I think would be the ideal. 

  • The theme
  • The experience
    • Immersive!  This trend may be relatively new (to fitness as well bricks-and-mortar retail), but imagine something like this:
      • The storefront will display live athletes (defined using Nike’s description) performing their best moves, compelling just about everyone passing by to stop, look and imagine doing something like that themselves.
      • Once inside, using virtual assistants of sorts (with a personalized temperament of course), patrons will be led through a gallery-like obstacle course.  It begins with a curated assortment of pre-workout essentials: supplements, muscle rollers, wearable tech.  Everything on display can be taken for a test spin.  And everything will be long tail stuff - things typically only found on Amazon or other online shops (devices and such that many would never consider buying unless they could physically check it out first). 
      • Next visitors will get into the zone with whichever activities they’d like (one level of “the course” could feature high intensity interests such as kickboxing or HIIT, while another could showcase more flexibility pursuits such as yoga and aerial silks).  No matter the level or activities selected, all senses will be stimulated.  The heat goes up a few degrees, the music subtly gets a little louder, and the lighting changes to what’s most arousing given the activities.  Gear, apparel, etc., again things usually only sold online, will all be on display/available for purchase, and demo-able via virtual reality (the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience).    
      • The course finishes with recovery. The temperature, music and lights return to a soothing level; infrared therapies, electric muscle stimulators, even a lifestyle café serving up samples of whey protein shakes and enhanced waters, are all on hand.  And now with the course complete patrons can proceed to checkout (or the exit). 
      • At any point along the journey guests can tell their virtual assistant what they’d like to buy or what their reactions/initial thoughts were to something (and an aggregate of observations/transactions will always be available on the device for reference). As visitors go to leave, they can physically inspect their selections, which will be waiting for them near the exit, opt out of purchasing some (or all) of their choices, then simply confirm payment (credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, even cash).   
  • The assortment

I’d love to hear your thoughts - on my ideal O2OPUS and the brands found inside - or on one of your own O2OPUS concepts.

Tapping into Today’s Modern Shopper

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The speed at which our world is ever-changing is lightning fast. As the modern shopper’s buying behaviors, mindsets and purchase patterns quickly evolve, I feel it’s imperative to not only understand, but also adapt to this fast-paced evolution.

With the busy life I lead, there’s no question that I am the definition of today’s modern shopper. But what exactly does that mean?  It means I shop around the clock. I want to be in control. I shop and share across multiple channels, from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar to social media. And when I want something, I know just how to get it.

My days are often driven by urgency, convenience and technology. This means you can find me shopping online for quick convenience, perusing savings through various apps, following social media, stopping into my local brick-and-mortar store and relying on mobile reminders. Omnichannel shoppers like myself intersect with multiple touchpoints along the path-to-purchase (so understanding the importance of omnichannel helps me be a smarter marketer to boot), so I love brands that meet me in the channels where I am engaging, shopping and buying, and connect the dots between these channels. A perfect example of this is Neiman Marcus – they know the way into my heart (and my wallet):

  • After perusing their website for the highly coveted Jimmy Choo perfect heel, I found myself on the E! News Fashion page where I was served an ad for the shoes I’d been admiring.
  • I then received a customized email from Neiman Marcus with a “We Thought You’d like….” message and content recommending a few more pairs of shoes – and it included a purchase incentive (sweet!).
  • Embedded into neimanmarcus.com is a “Just for You” section that featured a few pairs of these beautiful heels.
  • And a few days later I received a direct mailer notifying me of an event at a store near me where new arrivals of Jimmy Choo’s would be featured (to drive me into the store I guess to try them on and seal the deal).

Brands like Neiman Marcus use geolocation, web analytics data, clicks, page views and dwell time to make inferences about my behaviors and preferences, and they’ve got it down. They connect with me along different touchpoints as I move throughout my busy life – email, online, direct mail, mobile, in store. They are delivering me relevant, action-oriented and customized content to drive purchase and build loyalty. Maybe even one of these days they’ll convince me to buy from the shelf (or perhaps digital shelf) when I’m feeling a “treat-yourself” day come along.                     

Whatever brand I’m working on, I know that understanding the shopper is a key component and is certainly not a one size fits all.  As the modern shopper journey becomes increasingly complex, I’m fascinated at how we are able to engage and influence their shopping decisions along every step. I want to understand their unique demands, mind states and behavior, and deploy a strategic, effective and action-oriented plan that injects technology, brand value, shopper marketing best practices and industry/brand standards.

In today’s omnichannel world, I want a brand to deliver me what they know I need, remind me of the things I forgot I should have and delight me with things I didn’t even realize I want.

This is how to win me over – after all, I am today’s modern shopper.