Let’s Get Personal: How Retailers are Using Big Data to Enhance Customer Experience


In 2014, Coca Cola launched its “Share a Coke” campaign in the United States. There was an instant frenzy of both elated and exasperated customers who either could or could not find their first name on the personalized bottles. Flash-forward to the present and Coca Cola continues to revamp its campaign, most recently, when it threw last names into the mix this summer.

For the unlucky among us who have yet to find their name on the popular beverage, before you troll Coca Cola’s Twitter, a heart-to-heart with your mother about her creative name choices might be a better response, as every name Coke features is based on analytics, not bias.

The trend toward personalization has become huge, from simple analytics that generate the most popular names within a region or decade, to more complex methods of gaining consumer information. Technology is the medium that makes this possible, and the buzzword for the process companies are using to gain information, such as demographics, age, marital status, gender, etc. is “Big Data.” While the exact definition of this term varies, the outcome is the same—it works.

We see the result of this collection of data manifest itself in our personal life all the time. For example, Amazon does a great job of predicting products a consumer might be interested in based on past purchases, views, and favorites. This works to the company and consumer’s advantage. The shopper is happy for the convenience and personalization, and Amazon increases its sales by suggesting a product you need before you even realize that you do.

Besides tracing purchasing history, there are a myriad of other ways your information is accessed as a consumer. Loyalty cards, your phone number, and geofencing are just a few of the ways a company can track you.

Target is another company that utilizes “big data” to produce personalized marketing, especially when it comes to behavioral analytics. Target assigns customers a “Guest ID” and uses many analytics tools that provide access to a long list of information that enables the company to personalize your shopping experience via strategically placed ads and by sending relevant coupons to your smartphone and home. Once again, this functions as a benefit for both parties.

Many other companies employ these and similar processes to market their products and services because people don’t want to feel like a number. Consumers want to know their desires are heard and that someone out there is working to meet them. This is why companies recognize the need to go even more specific than a target audience and tailor their messages and products to the individual level. By learning to access data and perform analytics that can be applied effectively to the consumer, companies are not only increasing sales, they are building and retaining a loyal customer base.

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