What Brands Can Learn from Retailers About Data Insights and Personalization

Consumers vs. shoppers

Digital technology is shattering the traditionally linear purchase path, shining a spotlight on the critical distinction between consumers and shoppers.

But why does it matter?

The term “consumers” typically refers to individuals in the discovery phase, prior to their entering a store, where the point of an advertisement is to evoke an emotion. “Shoppers” are at the point of sale and are concerned with price, promotion and making a purchase based on a rational, informed decision.

While the lines continue to blur between national awareness plays and shopper marketing transactional activity, brands that succeed in today’s omnichannel world are the ones adopting a shopper-first approach. In short, they need to think like retailers do—that is, leveraging the right data to achieve optimal performance.

Understanding an individual’s mindset, priorities and considerations at the point of purchase is essential to converting a shopper into a buyer. This intelligence lies in the abundance of data already held by brands, or data that may be available to them. While most brands today have access to tons of input, the difference lies in knowing how to properly apply this information to unlock its true value.

Layer data to gain a holistic customer view

Today’s shoppers are hyper-connected. The path to purchase takes place across multiple channels on various devices. There’s no such thing as a typical consumer journey. Layering multiple data sets ⁠including census, geo-local, device and national sales with a retailer’s wealth of insights—along with those of a brand—has become essential to achieving a single customer view.

In today’s landscape, extrapolated audience models and a lack of segments are no longer sufficient. They’ve been replaced, in fact, by more favorable one-to-one customizations and unique shopper identifiers, providing more visibility into shoppers’ purchase dynamics.

Only after uncovering these can brands recognize the meaningful and valuable insights necessary to drive better brand awareness and greater sales. Combining rich data with robust retail knowledge equips brands to make informed decisions, personalizing the customer experience in a way that truly resonates.

But thinking like a retailer is just a start. Access to retailer insights has been limited to purchase-based consumer data from third-party companies, and although purchase-based targeting has opened doors for media productivity, it has also given brands the opportunity to define buyer characteristics that help them identify who to target, and why. Of course, it’s up to the brands themselves to see what’s in front of them and utilize it to make the most of their investments.

Retail is relevant

Intelligent use of multiple data sets is also integral to ensuring optimal media spend at retail.

Many brands are unsure how best to invest when faced with an array of different channels spanning the physical and digital worlds. The ability to plot a customer’s path to purchase with a specific retailer via a specific channel allows brands to better target their media, from identifying the most impactful message to selecting the ideal creative asset, size, or even impression frequency.

Consider how geographic proximity to home or work can influence a brand’s choice of the personalized ads that it serves. Consider also how in-store promotions impact the dynamics of consumer decisions—so much so that 62% of CPG brands polled in Triad’s recent proprietary study cited retail-level signals as a critical factor in serving dynamic creative and content for more engaging shopper experiences.

All of these factors are important considerations that contribute to a more impactful media delivery that, in turn, drives higher ROAS. But until now, pulling them together through a unified, shopper-centric approach has been a complex—and costly—undertaking.

Target with precision

Retailers have long realized that prioritizing volume and reach in media is neither efficient nor enough.

Brands that target based on assumptions are likely missing out on a large group of high-value consumers. At best, this simply results in wasted spend. At worst, mistargeted ads could damage brand loyalty.

That’s why it’s a must for marketers to harness the best insights, data and technology available to tailor messages to the individual shopper. Brands, agencies and data providers must pivot quickly to a more comprehensive, sophisticated set of targeting criteria.

The days of marketing to an ideal customer are gone. Today, brands can target their actual shoppers at the retailers where their products are sold by simply using retail data to drive bottom lines for themselves, like sales and the ultimate outcome for their shoppers, a seamless customer experience.

As SVP, operations, Tim Bagwell leads Triad’s account management, ad operations, project management, programmatic, creative and analytics business units.  Working with the senior leaders on each team, he is focused on creating, evaluating and optimizing platforms, processes, cross-functional productivity and organizational communication. Additionally, he is responsible for setting and evaluating organizational goals to help support Triad’s continuous growth and business objectives.