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There is something amusing and yet equally alarming about Pret a Manger going public with its policy of bestowing random acts of kindness on unsuspecting customers.

A free cappuccino for the man with a nice tie, or a croissant for the couple who speak the barista’s native Portuguese.

The amusing part is not the quirkiness of the idea, but the assumption that it will be universally well received. Perhaps we might even start going there on the off chance of a freebie?

I’m a very loyal Pret customer. I would almost go as far as saying I have lunch from Pret four times a week and munch on popcorn and chocolate covered rice cakes as snack staples. Not once in the last two years have I been given a free anything. So, with this fact in the forefront of my mind, has Pret got it right or really very wrong?

It depends on what Pret wants to achieve. It’s unlikely the company set out to provide fair recognition of customers’ loyalty, judging by the examples Pret’s CEO Clive Schee gave of the idea in action, which included “I fancy that girl or that boy”.

Good business sense

However, creating moments of unexpected happiness for both customers and for employees is good business sense.

It gets our attention, makes us feel special and punctuates our day with something that is enjoyable and memorable. You’ll probably talk about it, tell someone and share the great news about this act of appreciation and attention.

This is the stuff of brand building, culture creation and a marketing man or woman’s dream. Twitter will light up with the tweets and customers will come to check you out.

The problem is that placing customer relationship management in the hands of employees exercising their personal judgement about who deserves special treatment is simply not fair. All sorts of biases kick in and many highly loyal customers will never feel recognised.

It will be interesting to see whether these customers will be less inclined to shop at Pret since this tactic has become public, as well as how it might affect consumer behaviour in-store.

Could there be overt flirtation and self-promotion on entry, followed by indignation felt and frustration muttered on exit. Employees might find this tricky to manage.

There are businesses that have managed to create surprise and delight CRM strategies that apply internal rules and controls, making these fair yet flexible within boundaries.

The US bakery-café chain Panera Bread, for instance, has created MyPanera, rewarding customers with relevant surprises from complimentary bakery items and recipe books to invitations to events and tastings.

It would be a shame if Pret’s initiative sparked a wave of approaches that are headline grabbing, but really make just a few people feel special and everyone else a tinge disappointed every time they buy.

There’s a place for random acts of kindness and giving employees some power to exercise their discretion, but this doesn’t trump fair rewards based on real personal insight.

This article originally appeared on Retail Week: http://www.retail-week.com/comment/comment-prets-loyalty-scheme-does-not-trump-fair-rewards-based-on-insight/5074355.article?blocktitle=Latest-news-&-analysis&contentID=15015


There is something amusing and yet equally alarming about Pret a Manger going public with its policy of bestowing random acts of kindness on unsuspecting customers.

A free cappuccino for the man with a nice tie, or a croissant for the couple who speak the barista’s native Portuguese.

The amusing part is not the quirkiness of the idea, but the assumption that it will be universally well received. Perhaps we might even start going there on the off chance of a freebie?

I’m a very loyal Pret customer. I would almost go as far as saying I have lunch from Pret four times a week and munch on popcorn and chocolate covered rice cakes as snack staples. Not once in the last two years have I been given a free anything. So, with this fact in the forefront of my mind, has Pret got it right or really very wrong?

It depends on what Pret wants to achieve. It’s unlikely the company set out to provide fair recognition of customers’ loyalty, judging by the examples Pret’s CEO Clive Schee gave of the idea in action, which included “I fancy that girl or that boy”.

Good business sense

However, creating moments of unexpected happiness for both customers and for employees is good business sense.

It gets our attention, makes us feel special and punctuates our day with something that is enjoyable and memorable. You’ll probably talk about it, tell someone and share the great news about this act of appreciation and attention.

This is the stuff of brand building, culture creation and a marketing man or woman’s dream. Twitter will light up with the tweets and customers will come to check you out.

The problem is that placing customer relationship management in the hands of employees exercising their personal judgement about who deserves special treatment is simply not fair. All sorts of biases kick in and many highly loyal customers will never feel recognised.

It will be interesting to see whether these customers will be less inclined to shop at Pret since this tactic has become public, as well as how it might affect consumer behaviour in-store.

Could there be overt flirtation and self-promotion on entry, followed by indignation felt and frustration muttered on exit. Employees might find this tricky to manage.

There are businesses that have managed to create surprise and delight CRM strategies that apply internal rules and controls, making these fair yet flexible within boundaries.

The US bakery-café chain Panera Bread, for instance, has created MyPanera, rewarding customers with relevant surprises from complimentary bakery items and recipe books to invitations to events and tastings.

It would be a shame if Pret’s initiative sparked a wave of approaches that are headline grabbing, but really make just a few people feel special and everyone else a tinge disappointed every time they buy.

There’s a place for random acts of kindness and giving employees some power to exercise their discretion, but this doesn’t trump fair rewards based on real personal insight.

This article originally appeared on Retail Week: http://www.retail-week.com/comment/comment-prets-loyalty-scheme-does-not-trump-fair-rewards-based-on-insight/5074355.article?blocktitle=Latest-news-&-analysis&contentID=15015

27 Apr 2015

Published in AdExchanger

The big data revolution helped to create a new job title: the data scientist. The title, which Harvard Business Review called the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” – became so popular that the ambiguity of the description grew to include everything from statistical analysis to database management – two very distinct and different roles.

It has already been suggested that the title be killed off for this reason. Instead, I believe what the marketing industry really needs is the a different title: “insights artist.”

The ability to amass large amounts of data from various sources is important – and best left to data management specialists. The ability to organize data and use it for targeting and measurement purposes is equally important – and best left to statistical analysts. But making sense of the world – in terms of what consumers are doing, what they want and how they want it, in a way that can then turn all of that into a marketing strategy – requires a special set of skills that isn’t easy to find.

More Art Than Science

Analyzing data is a science. I learned all about it in graduate school, and I can still do linear regression by hand with paper and pencil if needed. What they don’t teach you in school is how to apply all of the critical thinking and statistical analysis to the data to make it come alive. That involves turning data into customer insights, from which a strategy can be built. That requires more art than science, and lots of experience.

A “data artist” can turn data and metrics into a visually appealing graph or chart that makes the data easier to interpret. Thus, infographics have become extremely popular for conveying complex ideas in an easier-to-understand medium. An insights artist combines the skills of an analyst and a data artist, with the strategy of a marketer to go a few steps further and turn it into a brilliant business plan.

Insights artists must understand the business needs and what exactly needs to be solved. They need to see the whole picture from the the data, business and customer perspectives, from the business application perspective and – most importantly – from the customer perspective. This is where all good data analysis begins. Just having massive amounts of data is not enough; it doesn’t automatically turn into insights that can be used. Once the business problems are understood, there is always a matter of choosing the right tools or statistical methods, etc. When the analysis is complete and there are compelling results to share, they have to be boiled down into a few meaningful charts and graphs for the rest of the world to understand.

Metrics: A Key Piece Of The Puzzle

After the logical thinking and investigative work of the analyst is applied to the data, and the informative yet easy-to-understand graphic development of the data artist is applied to the results, a story begins to emerge. This is where an insights artist separates from the rest. Too often, an analyst will do brilliant work only to fall flat when it's presented. While it may be on point and statistically sound, it doesn’t resonate with the audience, which is trying to understand how the data is supposed to guide decision-making.

Knowing which metrics to share is a critical piece of the puzzle. Analysts always want to show how much work they did, because it is a lot of work. This often leads to an endless PowerPoint presentation that has too much “What?” and not enough “So what?” or “Now what?”

Do you need to present ROI as raw dollar uplift, incremental net sales without margin or incremental units sold? These are just different mathematical formulas. What comes after the assimilation of results is more crucial to developing a successful marketing plan. Why was the ROI so low or so high? Did one creative asset work better than another? Most importantly, an insights artist should answer the question: What should we do differently next time to make the campaign even more successful?

How the metrics are presented is part of the art that is applied after the science. An analyst, for example, would say that in the last six months, the number of lapsed buyers of a brand totaled 4.4 million customers. A data artist would show a map that equates that number to the population of Kentucky. An insights artist shows the same information but also decomposes the reasons behind the lapsed customers, along with insight into: Were they brand-loyal or brand-switchers? Which brand did they migrate to, or are they out of the market altogether? Which segments can potentially be won back, and which tactics have previously worked in the past to bring customers back?

Searching For Insights Artists

Of course, finding someone with all of these traits is not easy, especially when the single most important factor to being an insights artist is experience.

In a perfect world, every organization searching for a data scientist would be hiring a former analyst who has spent the last 10 years as a marketing manager. But those people aren’t easy to find. An alternative would be to stop looking for one Renaissance man or woman to do it all – and instead solve this skills/experience combination problem by assembling the right mix of people. Often, the best solutions are derived from collaboration.

When an analyst, data artist, and marketing manager can all come together and understand the value each brings to the equation, success is more easily achieved.

So I propose we kill the data scientist title in favor of the insights artist. In reality, this is most likely a team of traditional roles that organizations have been hiring for years: analysts and marketing managers. The key is to stop isolating them in departmental silos and bring them together, so that each understands the problem, the potential solutions, and the best way to convert massive amounts of data into actionable insights.

 

Published in AdExchanger

The big data revolution helped to create a new job title: the data scientist. The title, which Harvard Business Review called the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” – became so popular that the ambiguity of the description grew to include everything from statistical analysis to database management – two very distinct and different roles.

It has already been suggested that the title be killed off for this reason. Instead, I believe what the marketing industry really needs is the a different title: “insights artist.”

The ability to amass large amounts of data from various sources is important – and best left to data management specialists. The ability to organize data and use it for targeting and measurement purposes is equally important – and best left to statistical analysts. But making sense of the world – in terms of what consumers are doing, what they want and how they want it, in a way that can then turn all of that into a marketing strategy – requires a special set of skills that isn’t easy to find.

More Art Than Science

Analyzing data is a science. I learned all about it in graduate school, and I can still do linear regression by hand with paper and pencil if needed. What they don’t teach you in school is how to apply all of the critical thinking and statistical analysis to the data to make it come alive. That involves turning data into customer insights, from which a strategy can be built. That requires more art than science, and lots of experience.

A “data artist” can turn data and metrics into a visually appealing graph or chart that makes the data easier to interpret. Thus, infographics have become extremely popular for conveying complex ideas in an easier-to-understand medium. An insights artist combines the skills of an analyst and a data artist, with the strategy of a marketer to go a few steps further and turn it into a brilliant business plan.

Insights artists must understand the business needs and what exactly needs to be solved. They need to see the whole picture from the the data, business and customer perspectives, from the business application perspective and – most importantly – from the customer perspective. This is where all good data analysis begins. Just having massive amounts of data is not enough; it doesn’t automatically turn into insights that can be used. Once the business problems are understood, there is always a matter of choosing the right tools or statistical methods, etc. When the analysis is complete and there are compelling results to share, they have to be boiled down into a few meaningful charts and graphs for the rest of the world to understand.

Metrics: A Key Piece Of The Puzzle

After the logical thinking and investigative work of the analyst is applied to the data, and the informative yet easy-to-understand graphic development of the data artist is applied to the results, a story begins to emerge. This is where an insights artist separates from the rest. Too often, an analyst will do brilliant work only to fall flat when it's presented. While it may be on point and statistically sound, it doesn’t resonate with the audience, which is trying to understand how the data is supposed to guide decision-making.

Knowing which metrics to share is a critical piece of the puzzle. Analysts always want to show how much work they did, because it is a lot of work. This often leads to an endless PowerPoint presentation that has too much “What?” and not enough “So what?” or “Now what?”

Do you need to present ROI as raw dollar uplift, incremental net sales without margin or incremental units sold? These are just different mathematical formulas. What comes after the assimilation of results is more crucial to developing a successful marketing plan. Why was the ROI so low or so high? Did one creative asset work better than another? Most importantly, an insights artist should answer the question: What should we do differently next time to make the campaign even more successful?

How the metrics are presented is part of the art that is applied after the science. An analyst, for example, would say that in the last six months, the number of lapsed buyers of a brand totaled 4.4 million customers. A data artist would show a map that equates that number to the population of Kentucky. An insights artist shows the same information but also decomposes the reasons behind the lapsed customers, along with insight into: Were they brand-loyal or brand-switchers? Which brand did they migrate to, or are they out of the market altogether? Which segments can potentially be won back, and which tactics have previously worked in the past to bring customers back?

Searching For Insights Artists

Of course, finding someone with all of these traits is not easy, especially when the single most important factor to being an insights artist is experience.

In a perfect world, every organization searching for a data scientist would be hiring a former analyst who has spent the last 10 years as a marketing manager. But those people aren’t easy to find. An alternative would be to stop looking for one Renaissance man or woman to do it all – and instead solve this skills/experience combination problem by assembling the right mix of people. Often, the best solutions are derived from collaboration.

When an analyst, data artist, and marketing manager can all come together and understand the value each brings to the equation, success is more easily achieved.

So I propose we kill the data scientist title in favor of the insights artist. In reality, this is most likely a team of traditional roles that organizations have been hiring for years: analysts and marketing managers. The key is to stop isolating them in departmental silos and bring them together, so that each understands the problem, the potential solutions, and the best way to convert massive amounts of data into actionable insights.

 

15 Apr 2015

Published on CNBC

Five years ago, "flash sale" start-ups introduced a new business model into the retail ecosystem: high-end goods, in limited supply, at affordable prices. Led by Gilt Group, Rue La La, and Zulily, these companies played to consumers growing tendency and desire, to impulse buy and changed the way millions of consumers shop on a daily basis.

However, many failed to build long-term loyalty form their user base. If you were a member of one flash-sale site, you were most likely a member of many others. This lack of loyalty forced them to compete on price and product diversity as more players entered the market. 

The new business models currently disrupting retail are adapting and learning from the flash sale model by providing a greater focus on loyalty and multi vertical disruption that the flash sale model lacked.

Subscription commerce

As software-as-a-service disrupted the revenue model of the tech industry, a few genius entrepreneurs determined that the same business model can be applied to products and traditional commerce.

Subscription-commerce companies led by beauty-products site Birchbox and others have brought the concept mainstream, allowing the new batch of entrepreneurs to build and evolve the model. Instead of being tied to the once-a-month delivery cycle, start-ups emerging in the space are focusing on delivering products when and where they are needed, becoming even more advanced in the ability to personalize products and delivery cycles.

However, the real disrupting factor for the subscription-commerce model is if it can displace the products that we buy on a regular basis; the products that, for the past 50 years, consumers have purchased on their weekly or monthly shopping trips. Imagine a scenario where a retailer knew enough about your consumption habits where it could predict when you needed more milk, more cereal or more soap? Chances are, if you have a loyalty card, they already know this and are missing out on a new reliable and loyal revenue stream.

Nordstrom is experimenting in this space with their recent acquisition of personal-shopper site Trunk Club; however the potential goes far beyond apparel. Expect to see some retailer experimentation in the coming year. If not, start-ups like home-products site ePantry will quickly steal market share.

Consumer-to-consumer

Consumer-to-consumer business models are in the process of resurgence; Rather than simply connecting buyers and sellers, today's marketplaces are harnessing new technologies to put a new spin on an age-old process.

Move Loot, a used-furniture marketplace that raised $9 million in new funding this past December, handles all aspects of the transaction process and will coordinate pick-up and delivery of products as well. As brands and retailers look for new ways to engage their customers, an understanding of their product, post initial sale, becomes increasingly important. Not just as a means to better target them for upgrades but as a way to gain control over the product lifecycle.

Expect to see more brands and retailers embracing the resale of their goods as a way to better understand and build loyalty from their customers.

On-demand

The on-demand economy is disrupting many industries but more than anything it is changing consumer's perception of service and reliability. Consumers want here and now and will potentially pay a premium for that convenience. Amazon has been a leader with their Amazon Prime membership, offering free 2 day shipping on the majority of their inventory. 

By delivering goods to the consumer when and where they need them, on-demand business models require greater efficiencies out of the retailer. As consumers seek to become more efficient with their time, the desire to meander and browse the grocery store or shopping mall becomes less appealing. Consumers are much more direct in their shopping habits and retailers will need to adjust.

Part of the adjustment will be streamlined inventory systems. We are seeing retailers leverage the click-and-collect model; utilizing store inventory to fulfill e-commerce orders rather than relying on a centralized warehouse. The next evolution in this model will be to leverage the sharing economy to deliver those goods in a timely and efficient manner.

The uniting factor between all three models is loyalty to the retailer/brand and convenience to the consumer. Start-ups have proven the viability, now we wait to see if the large retailers are nimble enough to react.


Published on CNBC

Five years ago, "flash sale" start-ups introduced a new business model into the retail ecosystem: high-end goods, in limited supply, at affordable prices. Led by Gilt Group, Rue La La, and Zulily, these companies played to consumers growing tendency and desire, to impulse buy and changed the way millions of consumers shop on a daily basis.

However, many failed to build long-term loyalty form their user base. If you were a member of one flash-sale site, you were most likely a member of many others. This lack of loyalty forced them to compete on price and product diversity as more players entered the market. 

The new business models currently disrupting retail are adapting and learning from the flash sale model by providing a greater focus on loyalty and multi vertical disruption that the flash sale model lacked.

Subscription commerce

As software-as-a-service disrupted the revenue model of the tech industry, a few genius entrepreneurs determined that the same business model can be applied to products and traditional commerce.

Subscription-commerce companies led by beauty-products site Birchbox and others have brought the concept mainstream, allowing the new batch of entrepreneurs to build and evolve the model. Instead of being tied to the once-a-month delivery cycle, start-ups emerging in the space are focusing on delivering products when and where they are needed, becoming even more advanced in the ability to personalize products and delivery cycles.

However, the real disrupting factor for the subscription-commerce model is if it can displace the products that we buy on a regular basis; the products that, for the past 50 years, consumers have purchased on their weekly or monthly shopping trips. Imagine a scenario where a retailer knew enough about your consumption habits where it could predict when you needed more milk, more cereal or more soap? Chances are, if you have a loyalty card, they already know this and are missing out on a new reliable and loyal revenue stream.

Nordstrom is experimenting in this space with their recent acquisition of personal-shopper site Trunk Club; however the potential goes far beyond apparel. Expect to see some retailer experimentation in the coming year. If not, start-ups like home-products site ePantry will quickly steal market share.

Consumer-to-consumer

Consumer-to-consumer business models are in the process of resurgence; Rather than simply connecting buyers and sellers, today's marketplaces are harnessing new technologies to put a new spin on an age-old process.

Move Loot, a used-furniture marketplace that raised $9 million in new funding this past December, handles all aspects of the transaction process and will coordinate pick-up and delivery of products as well. As brands and retailers look for new ways to engage their customers, an understanding of their product, post initial sale, becomes increasingly important. Not just as a means to better target them for upgrades but as a way to gain control over the product lifecycle.

Expect to see more brands and retailers embracing the resale of their goods as a way to better understand and build loyalty from their customers.

On-demand

The on-demand economy is disrupting many industries but more than anything it is changing consumer's perception of service and reliability. Consumers want here and now and will potentially pay a premium for that convenience. Amazon has been a leader with their Amazon Prime membership, offering free 2 day shipping on the majority of their inventory. 

By delivering goods to the consumer when and where they need them, on-demand business models require greater efficiencies out of the retailer. As consumers seek to become more efficient with their time, the desire to meander and browse the grocery store or shopping mall becomes less appealing. Consumers are much more direct in their shopping habits and retailers will need to adjust.

Part of the adjustment will be streamlined inventory systems. We are seeing retailers leverage the click-and-collect model; utilizing store inventory to fulfill e-commerce orders rather than relying on a centralized warehouse. The next evolution in this model will be to leverage the sharing economy to deliver those goods in a timely and efficient manner.

The uniting factor between all three models is loyalty to the retailer/brand and convenience to the consumer. Start-ups have proven the viability, now we wait to see if the large retailers are nimble enough to react.

31 Mar 2015

 

The new year has well and truly passed us and so too have the plethora of companies shouting about “the trends to watch out for in 2015!”. While the voices clamouring about this year’s trends have fallen silent, the trends themselves will continue to make their presence felt – well into the future. It’s an oxymoron to talk about “trends” for a single year. Trends should have longevity to justify significant investment. If you’ve been lucky enough to ride the coat-tails of a short-lived fad, great; however for trends to be useful and form a basis for strategy, retailers and brands should be looking at a multi-year time horizon.

Our ‘2020’ trends series will explore in depth the opportunities presented to retailers and brands through nine important trends. As we help retailers and brands navigate the waters of consumer insight, part of our role is to identify the trends impacting customer behaviour. These are the foundation upon which to build strategies to drive loyalty and growth.  But how do you spot a truly useful trend, and more importantly, how can you be sure it will impact customer behaviour in the retail environment?

We humans are creatures of habit – what drives and motivates us stays fairly constant – it’s the context in which we live which shapes change and drives trends.  Human needs are the filter we use to determine what is a useful trend – and the nine trends we have identified as significantly influential all tap into basic human needs and desires. From convenient solutions to make busy lives easier, to personalised products and services to help consumers feel unique.

Over the coming months we will be taking a deep dive into each of these nine trends. In the meantime, get introduced to them through our new report.  Click here to download your copy.

 

The new year has well and truly passed us and so too have the plethora of companies shouting about “the trends to watch out for in 2015!”. While the voices clamouring about this year’s trends have fallen silent, the trends themselves will continue to make their presence felt – well into the future. It’s an oxymoron to talk about “trends” for a single year. Trends should have longevity to justify significant investment. If you’ve been lucky enough to ride the coat-tails of a short-lived fad, great; however for trends to be useful and form a basis for strategy, retailers and brands should be looking at a multi-year time horizon.

Our ‘2020’ trends series will explore in depth the opportunities presented to retailers and brands through nine important trends. As we help retailers and brands navigate the waters of consumer insight, part of our role is to identify the trends impacting customer behaviour. These are the foundation upon which to build strategies to drive loyalty and growth.  But how do you spot a truly useful trend, and more importantly, how can you be sure it will impact customer behaviour in the retail environment?

We humans are creatures of habit – what drives and motivates us stays fairly constant – it’s the context in which we live which shapes change and drives trends.  Human needs are the filter we use to determine what is a useful trend – and the nine trends we have identified as significantly influential all tap into basic human needs and desires. From convenient solutions to make busy lives easier, to personalised products and services to help consumers feel unique.

Over the coming months we will be taking a deep dive into each of these nine trends. In the meantime, get introduced to them through our new report.  Click here to download your copy.

25 Mar 2015