Your Customers’ Wallets are Being Stolen

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May 03, 2004
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By John Hennessy


And you, not your customers, feel the loss.


That’s the warning Vicki James has for retailers in the May 1st issue of Direct magazine. “Those without a strong loyalty strategy are left vulnerable to competitive tactics
for gaining share of their customers’ wallets,” she writes.


Vicki thoughtfully summarizes four loyalty marketing tactics retailers can and should employ to retain and grow sales among customers: Personal Service; Needs-based Marketing;
Cause-related Programs; and Co-Marketing Partnerships. Using customer purchase data as a guide is critical to three of the four. A Cause-related program relies on customer survey
information to select the right causes to support. But for all, customers and their data are the starting point.


This article is interesting in two regards. First, Vicki points out that many retailers use excuses to avoid implementing a loyalty tactic: “We don’t have the budget for all
the infrastructure and start-up costs.” She dispenses with this objection by providing several tactics that have low implementation costs.


The second point of interest is that the article was written and published in the first place. Vicki and the editors of Direct Magazine apparently saw a need to educate retailers
on basic uses of customer data. Considering their marketing-savvy audience, that’s a sobering thought.


Moderator’s Comment: Do we over-estimate the sophistication of retailers when it comes to an understanding of the
basics of customer marketing?


Based on what I see being done or, more accurately, not being done with customer data, I think Vicki and Direct are responding to a very real, unmet need
with this article. There are retailers who could benefit from more sophisticated customer marketing recommendations, but there is a larger group desperate for instruction on the
basics.


Rather than beat a dead horse and ask why more retailers are not basing more of their marketing on customer information, I’d like to hear about who is and
how? What are the customer marketing practices being used? What do customers think about them? Examples that illustrate the loyalty and sales rewards of basing marketing on customer
data may be the carrot to help those who have resisted change to adopt customer-based marketing initiatives. After all, if you’re not using customer data to drive your business,
you’re probably unaware that your customer’s wallets are being stolen.

John Hennessy – Moderator


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