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How retailers can win customers with relationship marketing

The ideal way to engage retail consumers is through real-time, hyper-personalised experiences, a new eConsultancy report, in partnership with Cheetah Digital reveals.

The report, ‘2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index: Consumer Attitudes and Trends in Personalisation, Privacy, Messaging, Advertising and Brand Loyalty’ indicates that consumers interact with a brand on multiple channels, oftentimes unpredictably.

Speaking with Paula Thomas on her weekly podcast “Let’s Talk Loyalty”, Cheetah Digital’s VP of content and data, Tim Glomb, broke down key takeaways from the report, delving into consumer attitudes towards personalisation, privacy, messaging, and brand loyalty in the Apac region. 

Consumer relationships depend on privacy and trust

As browsers such as Google cement their plans to comprehensively curtail third-party cookie tracking, and consumers get more proactive about protecting their online privacy, retail marketers must shift to a first-party and zero-party data strategy to power their advertising and marketing initiatives. They must gain permission from their customers or risk being labelled as “creepy”.

Thomas says it’s a fine line between what’s okay to use and what’s just downright creepy. “I was recently speaking with a friend about a cold sore she had. And immediately, I started getting ads for herpes creams on my mobile phone. It was distressing,” she shares.

Glomb says things like that happen all too often. Cheetah Digital’s report revealed that more than half of consumers (69 per cent) believe cookie tracking is creepy. “There is a better way and that’s permission-based marketing. It isn’t rocket science. In fact, it should be common sense,” he says. 

“But the data continues to show that, year over year, people are getting increasingly frustrated with those types of tactics,” he says. “Marketers need to take note and leave those tactics to the real spies of the world. They need to get on with building better relationships.”

Retail experience and the ‘value exchange’

Relationship marketing becomes really simple when retail marketers realise that people just want to be treated as individuals. The days of batch and blast emails are long gone. In fact, the report revealed that there has been a near 50 per cent increase in consumers who feel frustrated with a brand that does not recognise their unique desires and needs in its personalisation strategies. 

But at the same time, Glomb points out, consumers aren’t demanding to be recognised for every single transaction either. They simply want to be recognised for the things they do with the brand like going to events, engaging on social or visiting the store.

This year’s report also highlighted that consumers want to feel like they’re part of a community. In the value exchange economy, consumers are rewarding brands that make personalisation a priority with just over half (52 per cent) saying they will trade personal and preference data to feel part of a brand’s community. 

“For a brand, that means creating a forum for customers to engage and get to know each other,” Glomb says. “Brands can create value in more ways than points alone. Upgrades are great, but they’re not enough if you aren’t providing a sense of community and recognising individual actions too.”

Thomas agrees, adding the importance of innovative loyalty. “With more of that, the whole industry will flourish,” she says. “Consumers will increase their levels of engagement once they have an opportunity to connect with a brand.”

Glomb says Cheetah Digital prizes itself on having a robust, customised and emotional loyalty solution. “We don’t sell a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s bespoke; each brand is completely unique. We get excited when brands ask us to come up with something different that goes beyond points, rewards and transactions,” he says.

The power of personalisation in retail

According to the report, 74 per cent of consumers want to be treated as an individual. Now realistically, that’s probably more like 100 per cent – everyone wants to be treated like an individual. But when that many people state it’s their number one wish; you have to take that seriously as a marketer, Glomb says. 

“Consumers want to have a voice. They want to be recognised, and they want to be given recognition for their allegiance and loyalty to brands. The data speaks for itself – it’s not me saying you have to personalise; it’s almost 5000 people telling you that.”

Before anything else, marketers need to create a strategy that involves getting closer to their customers, who are saying, ‘We’re happy to provide our data and sign up to your marketing program in exchange for relevant offers sent directly to me.”

Future-proofing retail with email

Email also remains an incredibly effective tool for marketers to harness. According to the report, 41 per cent of people, globally, had made a purchase from an email in the past year – a 16 per cent increase from 2021. “Email remains the number one driver,” Glomb says.

One of the reasons email remains effective year after year is its personalisation capabilities. “You can personalise email beyond just a first name in a database,” he points out. “Now, we can inject keywords into subject lines to influence the open rate.”

“Email beats out banner ads, social posts and other channels for driving commerce. And it’s been around forever. Email is a staple, and it’s something every brand needs to have for a robust future-proofed strategy.”

About Cheetah Digital

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalised experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumers. Many of the world’s best brands, including Starbucks, Hilton, Neiman Marcus, Levi’s, and Williams-Sonoma trust Cheetah Digital to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships, and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the customer lifecycle. To learn more, visit

About the author: Brendan Murphy is director, solutions consulting for Apac at Cheetah Digital.

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