When a White Stuff store is celebrating the anniversary of its opening, you might expect the manager and staff to make a fuss. What you might not expect is for its customers to bring in birthday cakes. Yet that is exactly what happens. In a reflection of the depth of engagement which they feel with the brand, consumers join in - or even initiate - activities that marketers have historically had to drive.
CRM manager for the brand, Stuart Crawley, shared this anecdote at the DataIQ Marketing Technology Breakfast Briefing on 9th July. Beyond just the feel-good factor which results, there are important implications for the retailer and its data-driven marketing. Without running a loyalty programme and offering no incentives at all, between 80 and 90 per cent of customers purchasing in-store willingly provide their personal information when asked.
Although Crawley suspects that British reticence about making a fuss may mean customers are unlikely to refuse when asked, this example also offers powerful evidence for the link between brand standing and data permission. One of the big shifts taking place at the moment is the move away from companies assumpting that they have an automatic right to their customers’ data towards earning the right to ask for it and the permission to use it.
Challenges to this rational approach are growing, however. Privacy concerns, data losses and identity theft risks counterbalance the usual value exchange and in effect dilute the perceived upsides of sharing data. A short-term solution has been to move towards phased data capture in which the consumer is not spooked by a request for too much information in one go, in sharp contrast to the 400-plus questions that were historically asked on “lifestyle” surveys.
As White Stuff has discovered, however, a stronger effect may be to play on the emotional bonds between customers and brands (where these exist). Emotion trumps reason for most individuals in most circumstances, which is why leveraging brand values to gain trust for data capture and usage can be so powerful. It may even help to enhance the value of the brand - a subject which will be discussed by the CEO of Interbrand, Jez Framption, at this year’s DataIQ Future Summit on 15th October.