In June 2015 the ONS reported that average store prices in the UK fell by almost 3% YoY.
This was the 12th successive month of deflation in the retail sector.
Alongside deflation, quarterly measures of retail activity have been growing for four years.
The big four supermarkets were, nevertheless, stung by discount retailers as they provided neither competitive pricing nor improved shopping experiences or customer service.
What can we draw from this? Well, customers are willing to spend but they’re also willing to shop around. If retailers don’t want to lower prices, they’ll have to make darn sure their service demands a return visit.
Be the first to try…
Starbucks has been at the forefront of customer experience for years. Off the top of my head I can think of:
- Decent music (up for debate, but better than muzak or Radio 1)
- Newspapers for sale
- Comfortable furniture
- Capacious stores
- Free WiFi
- Wireless charging (in ‘beta’)
- A very sexy app that enables payment, loyalty and even click and collect (in US and London)
- Timely and eye-catching email marketing
A recent email (shown below) from Starbucks reminded me how deep its commitment to loyal customers runs (after all, new features like ordering ahead from the app are not designed to capture new business, but to please existing champions).
The email in question used exclusivity to advertise Starbucks’ upcoming seasonal beverage – mulled fruit.
The subject is ‘Be the first to try…’ and the impressive part of the email, I have underlined it in red, says:
They’re not on the menu yet, but your barista can’t wait to make these delicious drinks for you. All you have to do is ask..
The copy subtly underlines the customer connection with the brand – ‘your barista‘.
Exclusivity can be used for re-engagement…
Exclusivity is a powerful weapon in customer experience and retention. The internet has amplified the use of exclusivity in marketing because of marketers’ ability to create mutliple private groups using online channels.
The ability to segment an audience and serve different people with different messages can be witnessed with email, in-app messaging, even increasingly with personalised advertising in search and social.
Although chiefly written and designed for loyal customers, exclusivity can also work as a tactic for re-engaging customers.
Those who may have bought from a retailer a year ago can be re-engaged with exclusive information about a forthcoming range or product that complements their previous purchase.
But exclusivity for customer experience is something different
Where Starbucks wins with the above example is the commitment to experience. Though the offer is exclusive, there is no discount for the customer.
The email is purely a wink and nod, intended to intensify the customer-brand relationship.
That’s where brands with truly loyal customers can succeed. Compare the Starbucks example above with the Banana Republic one below (taken from this post on Shopify).
Ok, so Banana Republic is in a different market sector, but it tries to use exclusivity here when really the email is just a discount mailer to try to increase sales.
There’s nothing wrong in doing this to increase sales or reactivate users but it does nothing to change the customer experience or improve the customer perception of the brand.
So, I’ll sign off with a fairly open-ended question – how can you use exclusivity to delight your most loyal customers?