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Customers in Charge: A Special SN Edition

Customers in Charge: A Special SN Edition

In the modern retail environment, shoppers are calling all the shots.

Consumers have the ability to draw on a variety of resources when deciding how to fill their pantries, from online offers to considerations like customer service, convenience, price and product selection — and these shoppers have an increasing array of choices about where to spend their grocery budget, from drug stores and dollar stores to warehouse clubs.

To cut through all that clutter, more and more supermarkets are seeking to forge more personalized connections with their shoppers via social media and other means to offer them solutions that meet their specific needs.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, for example, is rolling out Just for U, a web-based program that generates customized pricing and offers based on past purchase behavior and tied to the company’s loyalty card.

Matt Nitzberg, executive vice president, communications and media, Dunnhumby USA, a joint venture partly owned by Kroger Co. that handles that chain’s targeted marketing efforts, said in an interview with SN that an increased focus on targeted communications has emerged for several reasons. Among them are the fact that more and more data to support targeting has become available; there are more marketing vehicles out there to make use of that data; there is more pressure on marketers to make efficient use of their budgets; and finally, there is increased expectation on the part of consumers that they will receive tailored communications.

“All of those factors come together,” Nitzberg said. “The data availability is an enabler, the marketing capabilities that are growing are enablers, the budget and effectiveness pressures on marketers is a catalyst, and so is the set of rising expectations among consumers.”

Marketers that fail to become skilled at delivering “relevant, respectful” communications are at risk of being “cut off by consumers,” he said.

“It used to be that marketers could pretty much define the marketing mix that landed on consumers,” he said. “Now consumers are really the chief marketing officers, because more and more, they control the marketing mix that lands on them. We do it with TV, we do it with mail, and increasingly, we are able to do it online.”

Communication with the consumer in this modern environment, Nitzberg said, begins with the question, “What would the customer want to hear from us?”

Other articles in this “customer centric” theme issue of SN include:

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