Guest Blog by Millie Park
A recent Forrester report showed that compared to older generations, 18-to-24-year-olds don’t mind that their data is being shared online. According to the report, only 33 percent say they are concerned about access to their behavioral data. By contrast, 47 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds said they were worried about that kind of access. Also, the younger group is more willing to exchange personal data in exchange for discounts. Clearly, brands should target younger demographics to share data and make online purchases, right? Well, not entirely. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. In this case, actions speak louder than age.
Marketers are continuously trying to improve their understanding of demographics. That’s great, but in my opinion, this can also be limiting. This particular study doesn’t necessarily tell me that 18-24 year olds are the best demographic for retailers to target online. In fact, the glass is more than half full with the 55-64 year old demographic where 53% do see value in using online data. Uncle Ray is on Facebook, “liking” your products and services. Grandma Helen is on Pinterest pinning recipes and sweaters to knit. Don’t succumb to the ageism trap – they are engAGEd. Think beyond targeting individuals based on demographics. Marketers should focus on blending demographics (like age) with customer behavior, preferences and purchases, to personalize the online experience and negate any concerns about sharing behavioral data. Prince almost had it right when he sang, “Act your age not your shoe size”. Marketers should USE your age AND your shoe size.
We’ve seen consumers flock to where they have a great experience, no matter the demographic. The same applies to online interactions. As a marketer, if you have profile data and/or collect behavioral data about visitors to your site, then use it to your advantage. Use it to drive that great experience. Use it to show the customer you know them. Use it to show the customer you care. Don’t use it to exclude or downplay age groups – combine it with demographic data to build a powerful customer profile. And if you are given the privilege of using customer data, treat it with respect. Don’t ask for it unless you’re going to use it and use it appropriately to drive a personalized experience. Remember, misuse and non-use of data will turn customers off – especially when it comes to explicit data customers give you, like preferences and birthdays.
All available data should be used to tailor offers and recommendations to individuals based on their history with you. How they interact with your site, what they view and search for, where they click, what they place in their carts, and ultimately what they purchase are all data points that you should fold into your personalization algorithms to use to drive the user experience. Continue to build an individual’s customer profile as you get to know them through various interactions. Add into the additional data like-demographics, product ratings, social data, and other third party data. Test to see what data truly moves the needle and what recommendations resonate with your customers. Now you’re really moving toward having your recommendations perform like a personal shopper.
By making it interesting and easy for the shopper to interact and transact with you, regardless of their age, you will be recognized with purchases and rewarded with loyalty. Age is nothing but a number. Loyalty lasts a lifetime.
Millie Park is Vice President and General Manager at ChoiceStream CONNECT