As vaccinations roll out all across the country and major markets and cities reopen, people are coming together in new and exhilarating ways. People who spent most of 2020 and some of 2021 indoors emerge eager for social interaction and ready to dine out, attend concerts, and shop in-store. Despite life in the US returning to a tentative normal, people are keeping some of the new ways of engaging online that they grew accustomed to during the pandemic — research shows that a mere 14% of consumers plan to return to mainly offline purchasing.
In this rare moment of pent-up demand and buzzing activity, brands have a chance to define their business for years to come by adapting to what customers want in the Great Human Reconnection.
Brands are facing a whole range of new challenges and opportunities, but one thing stands out – knowing what customers want and need is more important than ever. The businesses that survived, and even flourished during the pandemic were those that stayed laser-focused on their customers. Keeping abreast of consumer behavior helps brands adapt to a changing economy.
Here are just a few examples of how companies pivoted to accommodate their customers changing needs, to their benefit:
Target flourished by using stores as hubs to ship online orders and allowing shoppers to conveniently pick up their orders from parking lots
Digital-first companies like Lemonade thrived as they were able to offer customers flexible products like pay-per-mile insurance
Airbnb catered to cautious travelers by homing in on the demand for local travel by offering personalized offerings and campaigns
There are plenty of other companies that adapted and succeeded too, but unfortunately, many brands did not. Now, businesses have an opportunity to benefit from the lessons of what can be done with a razor-sharp customer focus and the digital capabilities to work with customer data to deliver greater value.
People isolated during the pandemic were forced to change their shopping habits. This resulted in a flood of visitors to digital channels, dramatically increasing customer expectations for personalized experiences and online and offline journeys. And as more businesses shifted online, the competition to acquire and retain customers exploded.
Brands are now forced to reconsider how they grow their business. To stand out in today’s overpopulated landscape, they must have the ability to:
pinpoint new behaviors
connect with one-time, current, and new customers
But with the coming retirement of third-party cookies, consumer reach is about to be harder than ever. Brands need to shift rapidly to consented first-party data to learn more about their customers (rather than third-party data that consumers never gave their permission to use) and the best tool for organizing and activating consented customer data is a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
What should brands do to succeed?
Learn from your data and base business decisions on what your customers are actually doing— where they’re engaging, what ads and offers they’re responding to, what they’re buying, and on which channels. All of these interactions generate more first-party data, which can tell you more about your customers so you can tailor service to them even more. To enable full use of this first-party data, a CDP will resolve customer identities, create Customer 360 profiles, segment your audience, and deliver insights to fuel personalization at scale.
Here are four strategies to thrive in the changing landscape:
Analytics to understand the post-pandemic customer
Use analytics tools to unearth customer insights and understand new consumer behaviors
Customer data connected to every system and team
Make sure all customer data (behavior, intentions, and interests) are available to all your tools and across all teams in order to offer personalization online and offline
Create new journeys that speak to changing customer needs
Identify your customers’ preferred channels to deliver high-value journeys
Accelerate the shift from third-party to first-party data
A robust first-party data asset will be an insurance policy for the upcoming cookie-less world, so that you’ll still be able to reach customers while respecting their privacy
To help brands adapt in this rare moment of opportunity, we’ve partnered with AWS to create a guide laying out the challenges at hand and strategies for success.
Is your brand ready?
This is an evolving topic we will be covering in different ways. If you're working on these challenges, we'd love to hear from you to about your approach. Throughout Summer 2021 and beyond, we’ll be hosting virtual and in-person events to bring brands together to share their innovations, strategies, and questions about the Great Human Reconnection.