Adapting Retail Marketing Strategies to Fit the Endemic Era

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The past year saw D2C and retail brand marketing teams pivot strategy to fully embrace digital and become hyper-focused on customer engagement. Now, as we approach the upcoming holiday shopping season — and chatter begins to circulate pointing to the start of an endemic era — it has become pivotal for retail brands to understand, anticipate, and adapt to shifting consumer buying behaviors. 

Now is the time for retail marketers to plan and once again adapt their strategies for long-term success in what is becoming a highly competitive digital market. Let’s explore how to reach that success. 

Planning for data collection and customer engagement

Consumer shopping behaviors have rapidly changed, ushering in a new form of digital shopping and marketing strategy. Consumers are not only requesting a more omnichannel experience but also demanding an increase in transparency from brands in terms of collection and usage of their personal data. It is clear that the power is in the hands of the consumer, and retail brands will need to learn how to adapt to stay afloat. 

With a renewed focus on first-party cookie solutions, developing a transparent data intelligence and utilization strategy is the best way brands will be able to secure customer retention and loyalty. Learning to not only strategize around, but also to execute this transparent plan utilizing the correct platforms, methodologies, and communication strategies for transparent data collection and analysis will assist in establishing long-term success for retail brands. 

As the underpinning of all retail marketing planning, data is crucial to understanding consumer demand and ensuring customer engagement. For retail and D2C brands, data collection and utilization strategies are more important now due to increased competition, from large consumer brands to small businesses. 

The topic of conversation for next year is evolving. It’s no longer “What can we learn from data collection?” but “How can we use what we’ve learned better”? 

Using the data: audience segmentation

Audience segmentation is not a new concept to marketers. Evolutions in audience segmentation have been paving the way in terms of customization and engagement for years. As retail brands have grown and developed an understanding of marketing cloud systems and capabilities, data collection practices have evolved to a more exact science, creating niche outcomes for individuals and groups alike. 

This is exactly why the need for change and transparency in data collection has come to fruition. Consumers started to feel too targeted, the outcomes becoming too successful and feeling invasive. To those consumers who were unfamiliar or even vaguely familiar with how their data was collected, the depth of targeted messaging coming from brands created a sense of unease, provoking questions and concerns around how their data was being utilized. 

As a result, consumers began to educate themselves. They learned that personalization within marketing efforts and ‘accepting all cookies’ meant geo-targeting, personalized user content, push notifications that reminded consumers to return to their abandoned carts, messaging encouraging them to “keep browsing?” and more. With a better understanding of these marketing practices, consumers began to call for more transparency when it came to the collection and utilization of their data. 

Customization with transparency: the safe way to collect data without stepping over the line

Customization will always be top of mind among marketers as it is the key to customer engagement and overall marketing success. The need for transparency in the data collection that drives customization is something that has been a long time coming in retail marketing. This however, does not mean that customization practices will suffer at the hands of pivoted strategies and transparent first-party data collection. It will just adapt to meet consumer demand. 

As consumer needs evolve, so do the customization and interactive tactics of agile teams. Many of those tactics, like dynamic marketing creatives, kinetic emails, and contextual marketing driven by AI, have been and will continue to be pioneered by D2C and retail brands. 

Looking ahead to 2022: the execution 

D2C marketing teams and retail brands have been pushed to the limit with the number of changes they have endured in the past two years. Although consumers have (and always had) the right to transparency and fair collection of data, change is no longer optional.

Although many of the terms, technologies, and standards mentioned in this article are not new to marketers, the way that they will be implemented will evolve. Change is on the horizon, and it is up to marketers to adapt or get left behind. 

Jay Kulkarni is CEO and Founder of Theorem.

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