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18 September 2017

Putting the people in personalisation

   



Fiona-33-540x315 copyPersonalisation is the latest weapon in the store wars, as the retail industry adapts to cater for the ‘experience economy’. Margin, for retailers and for the brands they sell, is being driven by the ability to excite and delight shoppers through retail theatre and experiential marketing.

According to research from Gartner, 89% of brands now expect to compete primarily on customer experience rather than price and product as the key brand differentiator. Meanwhile, a report from Accenture says 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer – online or offline – that recognises them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

Consumers shop more with retailers who recognise them as individuals and can provide relevant recommendations. They like personalisation – and today’s technology allows brands to take personalisation onto the shop floor in a way that wasn’t really possible in the past.

Look at brands like Heinz, Nutella, Coca-Cola and Marmite – they have all been able to engage with their loyal fan base through creative use of ‘personalised’ packaging. While most of these brands have made websites the core of their offerings, some, like Nutella, have taken their personalised offer in-store.

Nutella’s pop-up shops in London department store Selfridges & Co over the past few years have allowed shoppers to have their own labels printed on jars of the Italian hazelnut and chocolate spread while they wait.

In fact, Selfridges & Co has been something of a trailblazer in working closely with a number of brands, ranging from high-end luxury goods to classic FMCG ones (like Nutella), to offer personalised products and tailored in-store bespoke experiences for its shoppers.

Last year, its flagship London store hosted a Christmas pop-up shop for quirky personalised gift brand Harrow & Green, which usually sells its personalised stationery, mugs and housewares online. Brand ambassadors helped shoppers choose from the company’s range of Christmas stockings, sacks and gift bundles and took them through the process of creating customised, bespoke gifts for their loved ones which they could then take away with them (and presumably fill with Christmas goodies).

Such personalisation in retail is a logical development of trends that we’ve seen in luxury outlets, particularly in the Travel retail space, for some years now – real sales people engaging with customers on a personal level to create bespoke items while they wait.

Today, across all bricks-and-mortar retailers, customers are increasingly expecting their shopping trip to be a unique experience. Unique experiences that leave lasting, warm memories and create brand advocates are, I would argue, best delivered by trained, professional brand ambassadors.

That requires marketers to invest time, effort and a reasonable budget in creating and delivering something that stays true to the brand ‘story’ and engages the target audience.

It’s all about turning what has traditionally been a purely transactional relationship – shopper finds product, take it to till and pays for it – into an experience, where the product is secondary and what the shopper takes away is warm, happy memories and an emotional attachment to the brand.

By Fiona Tindall, Head of Domestic Retail at Blackjack Promotions

   



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