CHICAGO—The United States might be seen as an innovation hotbed for marketing analytics, but smaller nations can serve as valuable proving grounds, according to an international panel at the Direct Marketing Association annual conference and exhibition here.
“Very often I will see innovation take place in an emerging market that couldn’t happen here,” most often because they have less bureaucracy, said Douglas Sacks, vice president of strategic planning at Focus USA, a unit of Focus Worldwide which sets up data-driven initiatives for marketers.
Jodie Sangster, CEO of Australia’s Association for Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising, cited activity in her country of 23 million as an example. In Australia, Sangster said some of the most exciting things happening in marketing are around disparate companies’ combining their customer data.
Marketing Experiments in Australia
One of the country’s largest supermarket chains tracks customers’ spending habits through loyalty cards and has partnered with a data company that can overlay that information with an insurance company’s car crash database to determine which consumers were best to target for insurance. This also raises privacy concerns as customers are being targeted (or not) based on their shopping habits, such as whether they purchase alcohol, Australia’s consumer privacy advocates say.
Data-driven marketing “is entering a whole new realm of whether they should be used in that way. It is extremely exciting what can happen and [to realize] the benefits to the consumer in the long run,” Sangster said.
Another company is taking banking information from one of Australia’s largest banks and using it to target consumers for credit cards and insurance. “They can tell who they should target for travel insurance because they’ve got information from the bank about who’s traveling and where based on charges on their credit card,” Sangster said.
Signals from Chips in Burberry Handbags
In Great Britain, Burberry now is implanting chips in handbags and coats at one of its stores in London. When return customers visit the store, they’ll “get scanned and your whole customer history will come up,” said Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA in the U.K. Once the customer has been identified, the shopkeeper will be able to give customers a personalized shopping experience. “In the U.K. we’re seeing the emergence of the complete integration of marketing and customer services. Companies are designing whole experiences,” Combemale said.
British retail store HMV integrated its 2.5 million customer loyalty card program with the retail shopping experience to put customer service improvements in each store manager’s hands. After a purchase in-store the customer immediately receives a mobile text containing a satisfaction survey. “When they responded to the survey with issues, the big innovation was to direct it to the store manager, not the call center,” Combemale said. The customer is contacted by the store manager who is authorized to make immediate changes to the shopping experience. “They’re delegating authority away from central [operations]. So the next time you could come in and see that your recommendation has been taken into account and adopted,” he added.
While marketing executives share their excitement about the potential of marketing analytics, they’re also aware of the dangerous line that companies walk between personalization and turning off the customer.
“It’s easy to be personal, but there’s a real need to look at how we retrieve value in communicating,” said Steve Kemish, managing director of marketing and advertising firm Cyance Ltd. in Oxford, U.K. Beyond “marketing,” personalization must add value. When Kemish uses a brand that adds value to his day, “I’m more likely to engage in that brand,” he says. “Use these channels to make peoples’ lives better, easier, faster.”
Stacy Collett is a business and technology writer in the Chicago area. Follow her on Twitter: @StacyTC.