By Katelyn Necati, Enterprise Sales Director, LiveRamp
The retail landscape is perhaps its most competitive during the so-called “Golden Quarter.” The industry name for the period between October and Christmas is marked by purchasing fervour and sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and increasingly Amazon’s Prime Day). However, this festive shopping season, retailers are poised for even greater challenges due to evolving consumer behaviours in response to the ongoing cost of living crisis.
High levels of borrowing and persistent inflation, paired with higher household energy bills as colder weather sets in, have driven a significant cut-back on consumer spending power. Figures from the Office for National Statistics in October 2023 found that 67% of UK adults were spending less on non-essentials, leading to growing fears that the retail industry has entered a recession. Furthermore, over half of those surveyed by the ONS also reported that they were shopping around much more, suggesting that affordability is being prioritised over brand loyalties.
In order to keep the evolving customer journey within their grasp, retailers should respond by ensuring that their marketing efforts are underpinned by a sophisticated, first-party data strategy. This means harnessing all of the data they have at their disposal.
However, even though many retailers sit on a wealth of first-party data, it is often siloed across the business’s individual departments. This severely limits its potential within marketing activation efforts.
Democratising this data meanwhile enables all stakeholders to access the resulting customer intelligence, and to leverage it across the advertising ecosystem. This is paramount at a time when consumers expect highly relevant and personalised interactions across touchpoints. Brands can use this insight to build in-depth, optimised profiles of customers within their CRM systems, enabling a pivot away from channel-based marketing for a more holistic, people-first and shopper-centric approach.
The cornerstone of an effective data collection strategy lies in first-party data. This invaluable resource allows retailers to directly source information around consumer shopping interactions across the funnel, including their interests and their buying habits.
Leveraging the data can help retailers provide the consistent shopping experiences that consumers are currently looking for, both across online and offline channels. The more detailed this information, the more meaningful and personalised experiences that can be tailored for customers. Moreover, in crafting comprehensive customer profiles, retailers can effectively segment audiences, ensuring that only the most interested individuals are served tailored campaigns.
However, it’s important to note that, in order for customers to share their data, there has to be a strong value exchange. If consumers don’t feel the retail experience they are receiving is worth it, they will seek alternatives. A great example of a retailer offering a worthy value exchange is Boots. Backed by the robust loyalty programme, the Boots Advantage Card, the health and beauty retailer has been able to build a huge bank of first-party data from its returning customers. Leveraging LiveRamp’s Safe Haven platform, Boots has been able to increase its first-party data targeting to 60% from just 7% in just over 3 years.
Managing this customer intelligence across a business, as Boots has been able to do, requires the right tools in place to derive insights, utilise these insights, and measure the results, all while ensuring that consumer privacy and safety are respected. Enhanced data clean rooms allow retailers to access measurable insights across the business in a transparent but privacy-focused manner. They are also an essential tool in enabling collaboration with third parties. These insights can be used to inform all campaigns moving forward and optimise toward delivering campaigns that are consistently successful.
Indeed, while a solid data strategy is essential during the Golden Quarter, this should really be a year-round approach. Utilising first-party data to reach the right customer, at the right time, and through the right channel will benefit retailers both during the festive season and in the future.
With more and more brands looking to pivot ad spend towards people-based marketing thanks to the rise of retail media, having access to this democratised first-party data will ensure continued business success in a rapidly evolving retail and marketing environment. For those who haven’t already started, it’s never been a better time to explore solutions for promoting first-party data collection and democratisation.
*LiveRamp is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, publisher of NDA