- Ask Their Opinion
Leading brands don’t assume they always know best. In fact, they realise that the only way to really know what the customer thinks or wants is to ask them. Disruptor beauty brand Glossier started life as a blog and gathered insights from customers about what they liked and disliked about products, along with their skin and beauty concerns. This all fed into the creation of the brand’s own, highly successful, product range. Meanwhile, activewear company Lululemon takes a low-fi approach to customer opinions. It puts chalkboards into the dressing rooms of its stores so that customers can share what they think of the products and what they would like to see in the future. By gathering this insight at the point where customers are trying on clothes – and making the decision whether to buy or not – Lululemon gets the most honest and valuable feedback possible.
- Remember The Customer
Nothing makes customers feel more special than being recognised as an individual by brands that they shop with regularly. This personal approach is often associated with luxury brands, but as the amount of data that brands have about consumers has increased so have their expectations. Clienteling platforms are one way that retailers can recognise returning customers. Mulberry is one brand that uses this technology to access customer profiles and send personalised messages. Omnichannel solutions can also help brands to join up their different channels so that customers can move seamlessly between them in a single transaction. This might mean visiting a store and creating a wishlist that can be accessed at home to buy online at a later date. Or starting a purchase on social media and being able to pick it up on the website later.
- Reward Them for More Than Just Buying
Brands need to bear in mind that not every customer shops with the same regularity. One person might spend a lot of money in one transaction and then not buy anything else for a long time. Another might buy regularly but spend small amounts each time. Relying purely on repeat sales as a measure of loyalty – and customer value – doesn’t give brands a true picture. Leading brands are adapting their loyalty programmes with this in mind. For example, The North Face’s XPLR Pass allows people to build up points for other activities like checking in at National Parks and Monuments. In 2018, Tommy Hilfiger launched an experimental line of clothing with built-in sensors. The Xplore range tracked the wearer’s activity and rewarded them for visiting certain places or attending events with points which could be traded in for experiences or merchandise.
- Offer Exclusive Perks
Another way brands are taking care of their customers is by offering them exclusive perks. Often these form part of the brand loyalty programme as a way to build the customer relationship. The aforementioned North Face XPLR Pass lets members get early and exclusive access to limited-edition collections and collaborations, win unique experiences, and even test unreleased products. Nike members can access a host of perks, including member-only events, exclusive in-store areas and services, freebies, special services, and member-only shoes and gear. Chanel is even opening invite-only VIP spaces in China for its top clients. These are experiences that consumers can’t buy in a traditional way, which makes them feel more exclusive and special.
- Personalise Experiences
Personalisation is fast becoming a necessity for brands to keep pace with consumer expectations. A global Salesforce survey earlier this year found that 65% of consumers say they will stay loyal to companies that offer a more personalised experience. Similarly, Twilio found that 71% of consumers say that personalised experiences increase their loyalty to brands. Some brands are incorporating personalisation into loyalty schemes. Pet retailer Pets at Home sends out monthly discount vouchers that are based on what the consumer is buying, which means they’re actually useful. Others are personalising the entire buying experience like perfumer Le Labo. Fragrances are made to order in the brand’s stores and each bottle has the customer’s name on the label, as well as the name of the person who made it. This level of personalisation makes consumers feel more connected to what they’re buying.
- Make Their Lives Easier
Consumers are increasingly looking for convenience in a retail world that is full of options. A 2022 survey by American Express found that 60% of UK consumers cite a convenient shopping experience as a high priority when shopping with a retailer. Leading brands are constantly looking for new ways to make their customers’ lives easier. This includes automating repeat purchases, populating shopping baskets with regular items, and sharing useful post-sale content. New technology is also opening up new ways for brands to help customers with their needs. Instacart is using generative AI tech to allow customers to ask questions and get recommendations when grocery shopping. This includes ingredients that can be swapped for each other, cooking techniques, and meal suggestions based on ingredients.
- Invest in the Customer Experience
Top brands are always investing in improving the customer experience across all channels. This might mean connecting channels for an omnichannel experience or simply making it as easy for customers to find what they want on the website as it is in-store. This is important because a massive 93% of US and UK consumers expect the online shopping experience to be better than in-store. But 91% say they encounter various problems when shopping online, according to a report by Coveo. The most successful brands understand that every interaction – no matter how small – that a consumer has with the brand influences how they view the brand. By working to make sure each interaction is as convenient, enjoyable, and useful as possible, these brands ensure that consumers want to keep coming back.
- Create a Space for Them
Community is increasingly a priority for major brands when it comes to their in-store spaces. They recognise that consumers don’t only want to spend time with their favourite brands when they’re buying something. They also understand that ongoing interactions with customers strengthens the customer relationship and increases the chance of ongoing purchases. Cycling wear brand Rapha is a leader in this field. Its Clubhouses have coffee bars for cycling enthusiasts to gather and watch live races or take part in events. They also function as start and end points for organised group rides for members of Rapha’s Cycling Club. Awake New York’s new space has been specifically designed as a place where fans of the brand can hang out. It will also host panels, parties and other events. Meanwhile, Citadium in Paris has filled its space with fun installations, retro arcade machines, and even DJ nights to entice consumers to visit. By Jack Stratten, Head of Trends at retail trends consultancy