Taking the ‘Con’ Out of Consumer Data

By Michael D. Fisher, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer of 3radical, and Marc Rosenstock, Head of Marketing and eCommerce for FKA Brands.

Thanks to an inward-looking and stressed global population, the health and wellness market has exploded in the last two years. Even the Global Economic Forum stated mid-pandemic that ‘wellbeing’ is a “public health must,” and a “social responsibility.” Yet, despite the recent boom, category growth has been rising since its coinage in the latter half of the Twentieth century.

Now worth $1.5 trillion, the health and wellness market and its brands are part of the cultural zeitgeist. Post-pandemic consumers are leading the category’s growth by championing their mental and physical wellbeing. Consider health-focused technology behemoths Peloton, Calm, and Headspace. We live in a world where consumers have thousands of options—and thousands of brands—to support any personal concerns.

According to McKinsey, consumers of health and wellness products expect more personalized, digital services. However, we know from our recent study that brands still struggle to meet consumer needs.

65% of consumers surveyed feel they actively receive irrelevant offers and 52% of respondents stated a sense of frustration from receiving communications not relevant to them

So the question is: how do health and wellness brands create the best possible experience for each customer? Throughout this article, we’ll explore how experiential personalization strategies improve customer engagement and retention for health and wellness brands.

What’s easier? Creating products for people or people for products?

Health and wellness brands can take measures to understand their customers better. Through innovation at both the product and customer level. As well as through interviews and research, customer feedback, retailer insight, and product testing, brands can seek to provide products that solve their customer’s unmet needs.

Brands also need to make sure that marketing, communication, and access to content are in alignment. Does the customer identify with the brand’s solutions wherever and however the customer seeks them? Looking at customer behavior and trying to guess what they wanted leaves room for misinterpretation. But what if we just asked consumers?

Ninety-two percent of consumers would share data to improve their brand experience.

The problem with traditional health and wellness marketplaces

Search ‘mindfulness’ on a traditional product marketplace. It may serve you a series of books, which is excellent if you’re looking for books. But what if you’re not? How do you narrow your search unless you have a particular product in mind?

Walled garden environments like these rely on other customers’ search and click behavior to provide their recommendations. But every customer is an individual, and there is no attempt by traditional product marketplaces to discover the customer’s motivation for searching ‘mindfulness’ or what sections of the marketplace they are looking for. Instead, the customer has to do all the hard work themselves.

To help solve this issue, health and wellness brands should look toward experiential personalization.

Experiential personalization uses vital data points to judge a customer’s sentiment, interest, and motivation. Then, it uses data shared directly by the customer to consider contextual intent and deliver relevant messaging and in-moment personalized experiences. By asking the customer, listening to what they say, and providing this in the moment, brands can give genuinely customized recommendations and customer journeys.

By switching their mindset from marketing as a covert manipulation to marketing as a steward of the customer relationship, brands can cultivate more personal interactions with customers. Ask them what they are interested in, listen to their response, and guide them to the right products. As a result, customers respond to the added value in each interaction.

Guiding the customer to the right product

Customers can fit into two very broad categories: shoppers who are looking for a specific type of product, “functional shoppers, or those looking to solve an issue or need, “benefit shoppers.” The benefit shoppers don’t necessarily know the product or even the type of product they are looking for; they are just looking for a solution to their problem.

For functional shoppers, experiential personalization helps to shrink the digital shopping aisle. It makes the journey as convenient as possible by reducing the clicks to purchase. Customers may already know that they want an air purifier, so the task is to determine the specific need they are looking to solve. It’s not about telling them which product to buy based on your current sale or what is popular – these may not be necessary criteria for the customer. Considering motivation and intent allows brands to recommend the product that is truly right for them.

‘Benefit shoppers’ don’t necessarily know what they are looking for, or there may be a product that is better suited to solving their needs. Brands can provide recommendations based on this captured consented data by directly asking the customer to share their motivation and interest.

In both instances, the brand is positioning itself as a trusted advisor and working to build a trust-based relationship with customers that will linger past the first transaction. After each interaction, brands connect with customers and become an integral part of their wellness journey by listening and learning.

Providing the right kind of choice

For brands to get quality consented data directly from their customers, they need to provide good value and work feedback loops into critical interactions. In addition, they need to give customers the control to choose their experience and the space to share their preferences and interests.

Four in ten consumers report being less inclined to shop with brands that do not extend tailored communications.

Brands need to allow a two-way dialogue that presents a clear and transparent, mutually beneficial value exchange with their audience to deliver personalization. The customer can see the value in providing their personal information. This doesn’t have to be a monetary or financial reward – it could be better service, better recommendations, or exclusive access to products.

It’s a slower process that reaps greater long-term outcomes, relationships, and revenue. However, with open and transparent value exchanges, customers will rely on the brand throughout their wellness journey. In this way, brand and customer provide lifetime value for each other.

Champion a consumer-centered approach

Most companies create a product or service and then push it to consumers, whatever their need. However, companies succeeding prove that listening to their customers and providing personalized experiences based on what they hear will deliver more significant results.

Health and wellness brands should take these pointers that champion a consumer-centered approach:

  • Telling vs. selling. Every organization has its specific sale offer and associated call to action. Align calls to actions and offers with customer declared needs and relevancy.
  • Relevant Personalization: This is simple, and yet it evades most organizations. Stop the 40% off site-wide sale. Instead, provide incentives aligned with interests, motivations, and intent provided explicitly by customers.
  • Experiential personalization means value exchanges: Incentives that matter to customers align with the value of the type of exchanges the customer covets. One size won’t fit all, as no two individuals will experience a brand differently. This means brands will enable the customer to define the brand experience they seek.

Customers are looking for greater personalization, more control of the data they share, and transparency from brands. They are happy to share their data as long as they see its benefits. Health and wellness brands aim to provide more relevant and meaningful interactions by opening a dialogue with consumers.

The bottom line is that companies should view customers in terms of lifetime value rather than singular transactions and how they can become part of the customer’s wellness journey. Finally, becoming a resource, consumers can continually return to as their needs change and their journey unfolds.

Article originally appeared on MarTech Series.

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