Customers are for life, not just for Christmas

Christmas Segments from VisualDNAMany brands and retailers face Christmas with both excitement and fear. Excitement for the possibilities of peak, and fear that seasonal discounting may hurt the bottom line.

In the run-up to Christmas, brands and retailers traditionally spend on marketing and discounting via generic festive messages they hope will convert enough potential buyers to beat the competition. But budgets could be spent far more effectively if it were possible to understand customers and prospects – and the Christmas buying experience they’re after.

People engage with Christmas shopping very differently: some have it all wrapped up by December 1, while others are still rushing around like headless turkeys on Christmas Eve. There’s Bargain Hunters who scour the web for the best deals, Family Shoppers who browse and browse to find perfect gifts for their nearest and dearest. There’s The Early Birds who enjoy a clinical Christmas and The Bohemians: those who buy big for a shock and awe season.

Conventional data might reveal what online customers are doing, where and when but it glosses over the fact that every consumer – offline and online – is a living, breathing human being with a lifetime of experiences and a distinctive set of character traits which shape their behaviour. Personality plays a huge role in governing how people respond to products, brands, advertising, promotions, onsite design, selection, pricing and much more besides.

If brands and retailers’ ultimate aim is to reach prospects on an emotional level – for Christmas or at any other time – then personality is vital information for advertisers to segment customers based on who they are, how they’ll shop, and what message will best resonate.

New approaches are now emerging that can provide a much broader picture of each online consumer, including insight into their psychology. As a result, a growing number of brands and retailers are now taking their first steps into a new world of market segmentation based on what truly motivates people and on what drives their purchasing behaviour. Researchers in psychology have spent decades building rich models based on the “Big Five” personality factors – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

Determining accurate personality profiles for a statistically significant group of known web users, then comparing their web browsing and purchasing habits with those of unknown users, it is possible to accurately infer the personalities of the second group of people. In the normally anonymous online world, this provides unprecedented insight into the likely behaviour and motivations of web visitors.

By using real-time analytics on big data, brands and retailers can see the personalities of online customers and prospects, monitor how they respond to different marketing and advertising approaches, determine the best messaging and approach for each type of customer, and then reach out to new – previously unknown – prospects using intelligent search and retargeting.

Understanding visitor personalities means that brands and advertisers can provide content, messages and offers that are relevant, personalised and meet the emotional needs of customers and prospects. Emotion is a major factor in both impulse-buying decisions and long-term brand loyalty. Knowing how consumers feel – about a particular advertising campaign, a set of products or the service they receive – can help businesses ensure maximum competitive differentiation. Most personality types like being sold to, so long as the product or service is relevant to their needs and presented at the right time.

By gathering and using data about the personalities of otherwise unknown online consumers, brands and advertisers can move beyond marketing that appeals to utilitarian concerns around pricing and product selection, and instead appeal to people’s aspirations, self-image and dreams. Naturally, there is less competition and more margin in the second category.

This Christmas represents a huge opportunity not only for delighting existing customers and converting prospects, but also for gaining valuable insights into their year-round buying propensity. As this is the busiest few weeks of the year for most consumer businesses, it offers the prospect of capturing the equivalent of months of data revealing the correlations between purchasing behaviour and visitor personality.

When Christmas 2015 comes around, businesses that took the opportunity to determine the personalities of online consumers will have the information they need to create even more compelling customer journeys and experiences.

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