Marketing Personalization: Start with the Tools, Finish with the Message

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported on how department store brands Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor have adopted sophisticated analytical techniques to personalize their digital and in-store messages based on browsing behavior and transaction history. The result: messages with higher open rates, increased shopping frequency, and valuable cross-shopping behavior.

Quoted in the Journal story, Michael Burgess, president of HBC Digital (Saks and Lord & Taylor are owned by Hudson’s Bay), said, “The most relevant, targeted messages with products that are of interest are the ones that perform the best.” The key word in this quote is “relevant;” HBC Digital’s personalization techniques drive relevance in the form of personalized web site home pages, emails, and in-store mobile messages. By understanding how you’ve behaved in the past, HBC hopes to predict how you’ll respond in the future.

There are, however, additional variables in the relevance equation: the personal values and purchase drivers of your customers. By incorporating these values and motivations into your digital and in-store campaigns, you can create messages that build deep, emotional connections with your customers that build brand equity and drive greater engagement.

For example: pivoting off the Journal story, Resonate looked at the behaviors of frequent department store shoppers (defined as those US adults who shopped three or more department store brands in-store or online in the past month) to understand what values and purchase drivers inform their department store experience. Here are just a few of the insights we uncovered:

Department Stores - Share Experience

Across overall personal values as well as values that drive both apparel and general merchandise purchases, frequent department store shoppers dramatically over-index on their desire to share experiences. To capitalize on this value, department store brands could, for example, promote exclusive in-store experiences to their loyalty program members and then reward them for sharing the event on Facebook.

Department Stores - Men are from Mars
Our data confirms obvious female-male purchase drivers—women are far more price-driven than men, while men are motivated primarily by convenience—but a look under the hood reveals more profound differences. Overall and when indexed against men, female department store shoppers rank Peace of Mind most highly as a personal value, while male shoppers rank Patriotism, Self-image, and Self-esteem as their most important values. Messages that reflect these disparate values will build stronger emotional connections with their customers.

Department Stores - Good Citizenship
Across several product categories, frequent department store shoppers value Societal Responsibility (145 index overall) as a key brand value—and women are far more likely than men are (78% more likely) to cite it as important. Versus the general US population, frequent shoppers are also far more likely to engage with a company’s societal program.

On the communications side, frequent department store shoppers are far more likely than the general population to download a retailer’s mobile app, follow retailers on social media, and engage with retailers through both digital and virtual channels. The power of personalization as practiced by Saks and Lord & Taylor will continue to drive response, engagement, and frequency through these channels. To build brand relationships that last, however, marketers will do well to incorporate the power of motivational insight. By understanding the “why” of your customers’ shopping behavior, you can speak to them with a voice that sets you apart from the competition.

Department Store - Personal Values


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