Nearly two-thirds of consumers think the loyalty offers they receive are irrelevant, finds a new study and Thought Leadership Paper (TLP) from Formation and Forrester Research.
While the pandemic accelerated the importance of digital commerce and marketing, the TLP titled The State of Offer Relevancy 2021: Bridge the Relevancy Gap With Optimization and Automation reveals the disconnect between brands’ reliance on offers and promotions to drive customer engagement and revenue, and shoppers’ perceived value of those offers.
Formation commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct two online surveys to evaluate individualized offers and promotions, defined as a discount or deal tailored to a customer’s unique context and interests. Based on the surveys of both brand decision-makers and consumers, 92% of brand respondents report that their company provides relevant offers, but from the customer’s perspective, only 33% of received offers are relevant.
“Brands risk losing their share of wallet if they don’t create lifetime customer value,” says Formation, a company specializing in machine learning-powered offer optimization that has been working with brands such as Starbucks, United Airlines and Giant Eagle.
“We as retailers and brands must build capabilities, journeys and offers that put the people we’re serving at our center through a deep and empathic understanding of what they value and need,” said Giant Eagle Senior Director of Customer Experience Justin Weinstein in a statement.
In this age of heightened demand for personalization, how do grocers identify what their shoppers value and need?
“Grocers like Giant Eagle, have a high frequency of customer visits which means they have a wealth of first-party data about how their loyalty shoppers are engaging and what they are purchasing,” Formation co-founder and CEO Christian Selchau-Hansen told WGB. “The benefits of activating the first-party data with more personal and optimized offers include increased customer engagement, more visits, and higher spend per visit.”
Through its Dynamic Offer Optimization platform, Formation seeks to help marketers activate this first-party data to engage customers with more personal offers throughout the customer journey and across multiple channels, Selchau-Hansen said. Formation also applies machine learning to automatically optimize offers over time based on how customers engage, to further improve results.
Forrester’s survey of 1,000 consumers found that 62% report that they are motivated to use offers this year because of the pandemic, with “value” a key driver in shopper engagement around promotional offers.
When asked, “What would motivate you to use offers/promotions from brands/companies,” 31% of respondents said, “The offer/promotion is a good value.” Offers/promotions that matched a customer’s needs were a motivating factor for 18% of consumers, while an interest in the product drove 17% of consumers.
“It’s true that consumers will always be motivated by value, but value doesn’t always mean a discount, nor does it mean having to provide higher levels of discount. Value could be exclusive access to an item, or maybe it’s an event where they’ll get to meet an influencer who can give them deeper product knowledge before they purchase,” said Selchau-Hansen, adding that research indicates building deeper relationships with customers requires a focus on understanding what each customer values and providing them regular tangible value as part of the ongoing relationship.
For grocers such as Giant Eagle, Formation sees automation and machine learning as a critical piece of the personalization puzzle.
“The sheer number of customers that come through the doors of a grocery chain make it nearly impossible to scale loyalty programs without automation and machine learning to help create dynamic offers and rewards that make each offer relevant to customers,” Selchau-Hansen said.
When grocery chains incorporate optimization and automation into their loyalty stacks, they’re able to create a more relevant customer experience for their loyalty members, which drives deeper engagement, he continued.
“That means they’re retaining more customers, and those new customers that are exposed to relevant programs are more likely to become brand advocates rather than occasional shoppers,” Selchau-Hansen noted.
Formation offers three tips for grocers looking to capture more brand loyalty:
- Establish a strong first-party data strategy—it’s imperative to create a deeper understanding of each customer.
- Provide customer experiences and offers that are highly relevant and highly valuable. Today’s shoppers know their data is valuable. They expect retailers to provide value for their data. Therefore, retailers need to ensure the offers and experiences they’re providing shoppers demonstrate both high relevance and value to each of their customers.
- Optimize loyalty offers based on previous results. The deepest brand loyalty is driven by ongoing, relevant engagements with customers. Grocers need to continue optimizing their loyalty offers based on how each customer is engaging so they’re creating a relevant and ongoing journey for each of their customers.
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