Maintaining a Personal Touch Through Digital Personalization
It might seem like digitalization is removing us from meaningful interpersonal connections, but many companies are actually using technology to establish a human, yet digital, touch. We see many taking greater control of brand interactions to better understand their consumers’ wants. Is it any surprise that this shift in interactions is transforming partnerships between today’s brands and retailers?
Retail giants like Amazon, Whole Foods and Costco have created private labels to better tell consumers their brand stories. Similarly, top consumer goods companies are working to reinforce their targeting of specific segments. These moves allow brands to invest heavily in their own websites, applications, and stores to glean insights into what consumers want.
After identifying these factors, they can make investments in technology that will better fit the consumers’ tastes. In the case of one global sportswear brand, it used new tech in its stores to give customers precise shoe measurements.
Could it get more personal than that?
Innovative Tech Builds Personal Relationships
This shift toward digital personalization doesn’t stop at apparel either.
In fact, food brands are innovators when it comes to reaching consumers. For example, you might think of Japan as a nation of tea drinkers, but the country is also a significant consumer of coffee. When you combine that with Japan’s passion for tech, you have a market where beverage companies can create strong personal relationships with consumers.
One multinational food and beverage company noticed a striking trend in Japan: a growing elderly population who are possibly less connected. So, the company created a product to address that group of customers. The brand’s internet-connected coffee-maker didn’t just provide consumers convenience, it allowed family members to check in on their older and more remote relatives as they drank their custom-crafted cup from the machine each morning.
This is especially meaningful when you consider the family-centric and ritualistic culture of Japan. By tapping into that culture, this company created a positive impact to their elderly Japanese customers.
The brand’s impact on Japan’s coffee culture didn’t stop there, either. With the user’s permission, coffee makers also sent data back to the brand. This data might show that a certain part of Japan prefers a certain flavor. With that insight, the brand starts to understand the unique desires of each regional customer bases and be better prepared to serve those coffee drinkers in the future.
There are plenty of other tech innovations that have been used to reach a wider user base; however, a brand’s goal should be to get as close to the individual consumer as possible.
Personalization Requires Human Thinking
Although brands now have the tools to better understand their relationships with consumers, a large toolbox of subtle interactions and nuances go unused. To capture that incredibly valuable data, brands need to focus on expanding the human thinking that goes into developing their products. Only then can they successfully establish a personal level of attention to detail.
Again, there are plenty of devices available today that enable intimate communication. Many companies use robust identification systems to read the pulse of a certain market. The ability to track these consumer relationships allows companies the capability to respond to consumers’ needs and promote growth.
Digital Platforms Build and Preserve Relationships
Data provides brands game-changing insights, but many companies still miss the boat.
Consider what recently happened to a legacy food brand. It was purchased by a private-equity firm that cut costs in the hopes of building revenues, but this change didn’t pan out. The research and development department was one of these cuts. It left little room for product updates and strategic innovation.
Eventually, the brand was left to sell an outdated set of products to a market that had moved on. By the time, this company had come to realize this, it had already cut the resources that could have unlocked game-changing insights.
When savvier companies take over, however, they tend to hire digital marketers who are attentive to these shifts in consumer behavior. In this case, you’ll sometimes see older brands selling products at bargain-basement prices then return to the market with a splash.
One classic example of this is a well-known skateboarding shoe brand. Three decades ago, virtually nobody predicted this brand would open retail stores. To help the brand achieve success, its new holding company leveraged data insights from its other brands and became selective about the outlets that carry its shoes. With its new class of shoes, it moved beyond skateboarding audiences and rubbed elbows with timelessly popular clothing brands across the board.
With myriad tech solutions available to connect companies with their consumers, it’s an incredible time to build a brand and engage consumers of all stripes. However, brands must still be balanced in their approach. Innovative technologies and solutions are only as good as the humanity behind them. You certainly can’t get the answers to the questions you don’t ask.
Everything you do as a brand should create stronger personal connections.
Srini Rajamani is VP and global head of CPG business at Wipro with end-to-end P&L responsibility including delivery, sales, solutions and new markets.