ADOTAS — Before the world went digital, the relationship between consumers and manufacturers of consumer packaged goods was somewhat distant. Sure, brands could work to engender loyalty by appealing to consumer emotions with TV and print advertising — which, if it worked, boosted sales — but that’s where the romance stopped. Coupons also helped, but they still didn’t elicit interaction. Brands never really had the opportunity to get to know consumers on a more intimate level.
In a world dominated by mobile devices and social media, all of that has changed. Now, consumer/brand interaction happens daily on Facebook pages and mobile apps. Coupons and loyalty cards are now digital, for the most part — which means brands have the opportunity to learn more about consumers every time they are redeemed, and importantly, brands now also have the ability to more wholly understand consumer behavior at the register.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, meanwhile, have their own set of consumer relationship issues when it comes to digital. They may be able to gain insight into consumer behavior when people actually comes into their stores, but they are faced with mounting challenges to get them there in the first place. Competition from online retailers and the “showrooming” phenomenon — shoppers who scope out merchandise in stores but then go online and search for better offers — combine to make the traditional retail opportunity increasingly challenging.
Today, we find ourselves at a time when brands and retailers — two groups that have not been terribly friendly historically — must now meet to address the challenges and opportunities of the mobile and social age. A new level of collaboration between brands and retailers, and the realization that technology evolution can help them both, will lead to stronger consumer relationships on both fronts.
For their part, brands must leverage their marketing prowess and the loyalty and recognition they’ve forged with consumers to drive shoppers into retailer stores. That can be achieved by leveraging mobile and social channels with offers that are customized to consumers’ needs, and optimized to reach that at the times and places they are most likely to redeem them.
Retailers, meanwhile, must understand that digital innovation can help them monetize physical space in stores to further engage and entice consumers once they are there. Emerging beacon technologies, for example, can be used to beam offers to the mobile device of a consumer shopping in a certain segment of a store or searching for a particular item — offers that can result from that newfound collaboration between retailers and brands that shares intelligence about consumer behavior and preferences.
Making all of it work, of course, depends on that repository of consumer insight that exists at the cash register, the endpoint of all consumer transactions. Both brands and retailers must be able to access the intelligence that exists at the point of sale to be able to customize their offers, whether those emanate from mobile coupons, Facebook deals or in-store promotions, and understand what is actually being purchased.
Through closer collaboration and by leveraging emerging technology opportunities that exist in mobile and social channels, in retail spaces and at the point of sale, marketers for brands and retailers can not only address the challenges that digital innovation creates, but use them to their mutual advantage.