Jennie is buying her monthly groceries online. She looks at a pack of organic cereals and really likes one, but it falls a bit outside her budget. She decides she doesn’t really need it. The next day, while on her way to the office, Jennie passes by a store that has the same cereal box. She gets a notification on her smartphone telling her the item is available at a discount. Voila! Jennie grabs the chance and buys the item right there.
This example of contextualized, personalized marketing holds some vital lessons for the consumer packaged goods industry. Here is a brand that analyzes an individual consumer’s pre-purchase online behavior in real time and activates a tailored, offline promotion for her, triggering a successful “conversion.”
Welcome to the world of 360-degree consumer mapping. With consumers increasingly not making any distinction between their online and offline environments, CPG marketers must connect the dots across different touch points to build integrated buyer profiles.
Redefining the consumer journey
The consumer’s path to purchase is changing drastically by the day as social media, online product review websites, price- and feature-comparison tools, and other forums empower buyers with relevant, actionable information.
The modern-day consumer wants comprehensive, on-demand product intelligence in terms of specifications and price, images and videos, store availability, related promotions, shipping information, etc. Fifty-seven percent of consumers make up their mind about the items they'll buy before entering a retail store, according to a 2016 IRI report.
As a result, the consumer's decision-making process is undergoing a dramatic change. Conventional linear purchase paths are making way for individualized funnels where the consideration and evaluation phases get compressed and, in some cases, even eliminated.
How to respond
This unprecedented change in consumer behavior requires marketers to shift from the traditional, push-driven, one-size-fits-all marketing paradigm to a buyer-centric, personalized engagement landscape. Marketers need to meet existing and prospective consumers where they are in their purchase journey, as well as through the channels they prefer, and revamp existing communication campaigns.
Adopting a 360-degree consumer mapping approach can help marketers align their initiatives with the new consumer decision journey. Here is how to get started:
Shopper insights: Use data analytics tools to track the behavior of the target audience across various touch points along the path to purchase , thus deepening understanding of their motivations, attitudes and decision-making. Unearthing insights about which forums and apps individual shoppers utilize, how they navigate from one website to another, and what search words they use will let organizations build compelling buyer profiles for targeted messaging.
Contextualized marketing: Harness these insights to launch custom-made marketing campaigns across different formats, such as personalized email and SMS, on-shelf advertising, in-store sampling, interactive kiosks, social media gaming or location-specific deals. Based on a real-time analysis of the efficacy of such initiatives, prioritize investments in marketing programs that are delivering the desired ROI.
In conjunction, marketers should drive contextual interaction with shoppers by mining behavioral data to understand their intent and, accordingly, pushing tailored deals.
Digital content: Drive a mindset shift across the organization, from simply buying media online to developing intuitive, digital properties that engage and inform consumers. Such assets, including websites, social media groups and mobile apps, can enable marketers to build significant mindshare, apart from cultivating different buyer communities focused on specific product interests.
For example, rendering relevant content for the evaluation stage will influence an individual shopper and improve the chances of making it into his/her consideration set. This, in turn, will increase the probability of the consumer herself promoting your product through word-of-mouth recommendations on social media or other online forums.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that the consumer is channel-agnostic. Therefore, marketers must provide all the information that they're looking for about products, irrespective of the touch point concerned.
Channel-specific messaging: Roll out dedicated consumer outreach initiatives for different channels — including the web, mobile, social media, radio, TV and print — based on the unique requirements of each medium. Address specific shopper pain points across each stage of the path by delivering relevant communications that reflect those needs.
To successfully crack the customer acquisition and retention code in this new shopping landscape, it is essential for marketers to reimagine their engagement approach across touch points. Building 360-degree consumer profiles will go a long way in helping meet that objective —and meet rapidly evolving consumer expectations.
About the Author
Amitava Sengupta is vice president at HCL Technologies. He has more than 21 years of experience spanning key consumer-facing industry verticals, including retail, consumer goods, manufacturing and publishing. He has worked across functions such as logistics, warehousing, inventory management, multi-channel strategies, mobility and field sales, as well as market entry strategies, pricing strategies, distribution management and market research.