Retailers Appear Customer-Focused, But Sales Driven

rsr-research-marketing-opportunities-for-global-retailers-dec11.gifThe vast majority of global retailers say that customer-centric marketing opportunities such as better targeting through more detailed customer preferences (97%) and delivering real-time personalized offers to consumers (97%) are either highly valuable or somewhat valuable to them, according to [download page] a December 2011 report from RSR Research. Data from “Customer Centricity 2.0: The Rise of the Chief Marketing Officer” indicates that almost all retailers believe that focusing more on customer rather than product (94%), turning customers into advocates through social media (94%), and becoming more brand-focused (94%) are valuable marketing opportunities.

Even so, building brand (23%) and customer loyalty (5%) are primary objectives to relatively few retailers, far behind the leading objective, driving sales (49%).

Customer Engagement, Reach Seen Challenging

71% of “Winners” (defined as retailers with comparable store/sales growth of more than 4%) cite an increasing difficulty reaching consumers due to fragmented customer segments as a top 3 marketing business challenge. Roughly 3 in 5 also struggle to keep up with all the new ways to engage with consumers, while 53% complain that too many communication channels have unproven effectiveness. These are also the top 3 issues among other retailers, although they cite engagement difficulties (71%) as their top challenge, ahead of trouble with channel effectiveness (62%) and customer reach (52%).

More Data Sources, Less Proficiency

Retailers appear to have a variety of channels at their disposal with which to collect customer data, though: 79% use in-store (POS, employee, mobile, kiosk) channels, ahead of email (71%), e-commerce (61%), social networks (47%), and call center (39%).

Yet, while almost 3 in 4 retailers say they know who their best shoppers are, more respondents disagree than agree that they are proficient at targeted marketing across channels (37% vs. 35%). Furthermore, 41% of respondents say their loyalty programs are not a foundational element of their marketing strategy, compared to 39% who say they are.

Mobile Penetration Remains Low

rsr-retailer-channels.jpgWhile a majority of respondents operate stores (80%), online/e-commerce sites (80%), and social channels (52%), just one-quarter said they have a dedicated mobile/m-commerce site. Additionally, only 1 in 5 use mobile SMS campaigns, and just 16% have a downloadable mobile application.

These figures are in line with results from a November study from the e-tailing group sponsored by Bronto, which found that 29% of marketers say they currently use a mobile commerce site, 19% employ a mobile application, and 14% currently collect SMS opt-in from customers in all channels.

Other Findings:

  • 63% of retailers responding to the RSR survey report they will be increasing their investment in online advertising in the next year. 56% will grow their mobile ad spend, while about half will invest more in Facebook or other community social networks. The leading channels cited for a decline in spending are print ads (37%) and traditional advertising (23%).
  • Measuring the effectiveness of different marketing tactics, along with difficulty coordinating internally to create a seamless cross-channel experience (both at 58%) are the most-cited top 3 marketing operational challenges. Not having enough marketing resources to manage all the available opportunities (71%) and not knowing how to turn customer data into actionable business intelligence (63%) are the top organizational inhibitors.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM), customer purchase analytics, customer segmentation, and revenue attribution and campaign ROI analysis, are deemed to be the most valuable marketing technologies. However, although 82% of respondents cite CRM as very valuable, only 36% have been using the capability for longer than a year. Similar discrepancies exist for customer purchase analytics (74% vs. 48%), customer segmentation (68% vs. 34%), and revenue attribution and campaign ROI analysis (62% vs. 16%).

About the Data: RSR conducted an online survey from September – November 2011 and received answers from 57 qualified respondents. 26% held senior management (e.g. CEO, CFO, COO, CIO) titles, while 41% held Director/Manager roles. 26% of respondents were from retailers with 2010 revenue of less than $25 million, while 46% represented retailers with revenue of over $1 billion. Two-thirds had US headquarters.