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Ryan FreemanVice President, PartnershipsTurnstyle Solutions
Shoppers have come to expect the same relevancy, personalization and service in the physical store as they find in the ecommerce setting. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Ryan Freeman, vice president of partnerships at proximity marketing platform Turnstyle Solutions, about how brands and retailers should shake up their shopper marketing efforts to better cater to their customers.
eMarketer: How has the concept of shopper marketing changed over the past year?
Ryan Freeman: Shoppers have become increasingly informed. Shopping is less about trial and exploration and more about validating assumptions and hypothesis. That puts more of the burden on retailers to not just put their products and services on a pedestal, but to focus on how their wares and widgets deliver on the value proposition that their marketing promises.
In our work with brands, manufacturers and retailers, a lot of our conversations focus on how they can use in-store technology not just to provide another marketing message, but to know what’s relevant to that consumer, what type of product they’re likely to interact with and how to be proactive.
In the past 12 months, there has been a lot more interest in changing the status quo and finding solutions to questions, rather than exploring potential solutions for the future.
eMarketer: What is the No. 1 challenge facing shopper marketers?
Freeman: The challenge is replicating in the physical retail environment the level of personalization that consumers have grown accustomed to in the digital world. As ecommerce grows in market share, expectations of personalization in brick-and-mortar will continue to veer closer to those that we have for ecommerce businesses.
Amazon is different for me than it is for you, because we’re interested in different things. Why not use that information to create a smoother, more seamless and more relevant experience for both of us? Understanding what kind of technology and data are required to enable that in the physical world is the biggest challenge for shopper marketers today.
eMarketer: What’s the first step to cater to today’s tech-savvy shoppers?
Freeman: The traditional approach to in-store and shopper marketing is to fill the physical environment with marketing messages and cues that a brand or retailer wants the consumer to see and feel. The more consumed their audience is by their own mobile devices, the more the imperative shifts for shopper marketing and all in-store communications to be mobile-first.
Mobile is the most personal and intimate channel for marketing communications, and it is what consumers are staring at—they’re no longer looking at that digital sign or that in-store display as often and intently as they used to.
eMarketer: When marketers want to target shoppers in the aisle, when does it become invasive?
Freeman: It’s a constant balancing act for brands and retailers to understand what type of information and in what moment it is going to feel helpful to a consumer vs. what is going to feel invasive. When someone is standing in front of a certain product, talking to them about that product is going to feel invasive. But when someone is in the men’s section of a department store, talking to them about menswear is a little less creepy. Where that narrow line sits on the spectrum always has and will constantly evolve.
eMarketer: What shopper marketing trends should marketers pay attention to?
Freeman: One-to-one analytics—understanding how one consumer behaves in an omnichannel fashion—are becoming increasingly powerful and acceptable through Turnstyle and other Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies.
What advertising did they see online? What notifications did they get through a mobile app? What push messaging did they get through email and SMS? What influence has that had on their historical behavior patterns, and can we use that to predict their future behavior patterns? The ability to do that at the individual level, even if it’s anonymized, is much more powerful than using probabilistic modeling at an aggregate level.
Another is personalized in-store marketing. Personalized marketing has forever been in the realm of digital marketing. How do we take this one-to-one data that we’re gathering about physical behavior and use that to personalize and contextualize the retail behavior to the individual rather than to a segment or the overall population?
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