Meeting customers’ desire for seamless experiences, driving user adoption and mining the right data to enhance customer engagement, are just some of the challenges facing global retailers today. At our recent Next Generation Retail EU summit top retailers gathered to discuss how they are transforming customer engagement. We asked three executives from The LEGO Group, L’Oreal and Studio Moderna to share key learnings from their journeys.
- Data is only as good as the person deciphering the data
- Transformations to attract Gen Z and Gen Alpha on their level should start now
- Creating long-term customer relationships for sellers begins with making a friend not a sale
Scaling experiences with consistency
LEGO recently opened its 1000th store in Texas. Just 15 years ago they had just 20 stores. As Christian Thor Larsen, VP, Brand Retail at The LEGO Group told our audience, post-covid they are heavily invested in re-engaging customers with in-store experiences but added, “we are still in the early days of understanding what is the balance between a deep experience in store where our customers have a great hands-on experience which is certainly a part of our DNA, yet there is also our need to convert and where do you strike the balance between the two or from the conversions that don’t happen in the store?”
Digitally, LEGO has launched play experiences in the marketplace which have done extremely well with kids primarily in the US and western Europe. When it comes to “digital building” where the customer can have a digital play experience using their hands, that is in early development.
Changing customer interests & behavior
For Carla Baumer, Retail Director for L’Oreal Austria, solving the challenge of changing consumer interests and behaviour comes down to agility, “I think customer engagement has always been at the heart of successful retail per say, but I would suggest it’s become more complex. L’Oreal customers have changed a lot in the last 3 to 5 years, more so than what we have seen in the last 30 years and we have become more eco-conscious, established more trust and transparency, and when our customer tells us they want anything and everything at any time from any place and we need figure out how to operate business differently and we need to do it fast.” Carla added responding to changing customers requires a complete restructuring of their organizations to stay ahead.
Merging social media and reality
Our third panellist, Elizabeth Gusentsova, Head of E-Commerce at Studio Moderna Ukraine, told the audience to merge social media and reality.
“I believe it’s now crucial for retail to merge their social media and reality so don’t make them different realities, it’s one reality.”
Elizabeth followed with a successful merging story of her own when they launched “Dream Job” where anyone interested in coming to their studio and sleep all night for those having sleeping difficulties and customers applied supplying them with data on various sleep problems they were experiencing. The campaign gained loads of attention after they posted the ad on a job search sight and social media influencers took it from there. Elizabeth says, “it was amazing, and the revenue grew on the sale of mattresses, so we united the social media, the influencers and offline, it was a great experience.”
At LEGO, Christian says he sometimes feels like they are “data mining ourselves to dizziness.” Some of the data points are very easy to read but the vast majority require interpretation yet seeing positive results. “We can see that loyal brand fans of any nature globally, the customer has the expectation that it’s a destination and the experience for us has reached new heights which is awesome, and we want to live up to that expectation and that’s why we are doing a lot of data mining right now.”
Elizabeth says it’s about collecting the right data to better understand customers’ needs. “Having too much data is better than not having data at all. The main thing is not to collect all possible data but to collect data that is necessary to help the consumer to find the best way to serve them. We must be consumer centric all the time.”
Carla agreed on getting the right interpretation. “The data is only as good as the person deciphering the data and I think there is a fine line on being inundated with data and what do you do with it but I think data has a lot to do with listening and understanding customer needs and from those needs you can adapt your services, adapt your products and your store environment but I think it’s all about listening and understanding those customer needs.”
When it comes to customer engagement and the way retailers communicate, it’s all about striking the right balance of marketing research and personalization. This way you can create the right level of communication without overwhelming the customer.
Elizabeth says every retailer needs to now start thinking about future growth. “When we are talking about customer engagement, we’re mostly talking about people in the 25 to 45 age bracket who buy the most at the moment. The thing that we are losing in this strategy is Gen Z and Gen Alpha who are totally about gamification. They don’t react to the texts that we send and if we don’t focus on them right now when they are about to become the core audience, they need to have us as top of mind so this transformation must be done yesterday.”
For Carla at L’Oreal, customer engagement starts at the first interaction and encourages sales teams to connect on a different level.
“In terms of customer engagement and this what I always tell my sales teams is make a friend not a sale, how can we connect rather than purely sell because that’s what’s going to be sustainable in the long term.”
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