The retail CMO’s seasonal trends checklist

By Michael Poyser, Chief Analytics Officer of Ecrebo

Life can be tough for a chief marketing officer working in retail. As well as delivering the best customer experience across multiple channels, the pressure is on to improve the ROI from marketing campaigns and deliver personalisation in a world where consumers increasingly expect it.

CMOs need to ensure that they communicate with customers at the right time; that they engage with customers at all stages of the buying journey; and that they properly segment their audiences so that they understand them individually. And one area where this is even more important, is seasonal events.

Christmas, the January sales and Valentine’s Day are just some of the seasonal events where there is huge opportunity if marketing programmes are planned and executed effectively. For the modern-day retailer, the key to success lies in the use of data, but as a retail CMO, where do you start? 

By following the three principles below, you can better understand your customers, make key seasonal events work harder for your business, and deliver even more value from your campaigns.

Paint a vivid customer picture

Build a comprehensive picture of your customers by using a combination of historical and real-time data generated at the point of sale (POS).

Historical data offers an understanding of shoppers’ longer-term buying behaviour, spending habits and visit frequency. This data, built up over months, or even years, and across millions of transactions, is especially relevant when it comes to getting the most out of seasonal trends. For example, which promotions proved most successful in getting customers into store during the coldest, or the hottest, days over the last five years? 

On the other hand, real-time data generated at the POS is vital when it comes to improving agility; enabling you to react to events and changes in behaviour; such as a sudden period of hot weather. This data can be used to influence promotions across the entire store estate or enable you to take a more targeted approach and streamline offers in a region, or even a specific store.

By understanding what items are being bought, when, and alongside which other items, you can improve the effectiveness of seasonal marketing campaigns by using basket data to deliver relevant promotions, for example, thicker socks to go with a pair of boots, or promotions for electric heaters in the winter.

Make key calendar events work harder

When it comes to established seasonal events, it’s important to look beyond the obvious promotions and tactics. Instead, if you focus on the wider trends and impacts of these events, you can use data to understand shoppers and tailor offers to them before, during and after events.

For example, if a customer starts buying more wine and party food at Christmas, this isn’t a surprising insight. But if the same customer stops buying alcohol completely in January, you could make the assumption that their New Year’s resolution is to be healthier. In this case, you could tailor your marketing efforts around this new behaviour, with promotions on health foods and offers on workout clothing.

Make campaigns last longer to deliver more value

Everything has an expiry date. So, when devising campaigns, particularly around seasonal events, changing redemption behaviour can have an impact on uptake. Use flexible redemption windows to strike a healthy balance between optimising marketing campaigns and keeping shoppers happy. This then allows for a more relevant and targeted promotional journey, which you can capitalise on to increase spend per visit and improve retention.

Although certain offers require a limited redemption window, for example a discount offer on a pasta sauce brand promotion, it is possible for other offers to be used to increase longer-term spend and retention. So, instead of extending offers to customers that last until the end of the year, why not extend the journey into a series of four or five offers, each one triggering the next, and encouraging shoppers back into store at the same time?

Not all campaigns, promotions and offers need to be redeemed immediately. With access to the right data, you can make the most out of seasonal campaigns by guiding customers along a journey. And the campaign needn’t finish after the seasonal event – think about the bigger picture and how buyer behaviour may change afterwards.

The data opportunity

As a modern retail CMO, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Seasonal events remain critical in driving sales at peak periods. But with so many factors to consider and often little time between each event, it can be a challenge to ensure campaigns are as effective as possible.

As a marketer, you need to consider how a given promotion affects consumer behaviour both in the lead-up to, and follow-on, from the event, and use tactics, such as personalised offers, to encourage return visits, repeat sales and drive long-term customer engagement.

Ultimately, the most successful approach is to incorporate seasonal events as part of a much wider, longer-term strategy; one that draws on data to help increase footfall, boost engagement and improve retention.

By Michael Poyser, Chief Analytics Officer of Ecrebo Michael brings more than 18 years of experience working in customer and loyalty analytics. In his role as Chief Analytics Officer, he helps our retail customers better utilise real-time data to generate impactful consumer insights. Michael has previously worked as Vice President of Aimia’s Analytics division in Canada; Head of Aimia’s Analytics division for EMEA; and Head of Shopping Experience for dunnhumby. Michael forms part of the Ecrebo senior leadership team where he has input into the overall running and strategic direction of the company.

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