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Sharp Data Is Key to Shaping Black Friday 2.0

Leveraging Customer Insight to Keep Up with the Evolution of this Holiday – Guest Blog by Dr. Matthew Green

Black Friday is in a fast – and even violent – transition.  While some customers are waiting in line to rush the doors, others are taking a more mobile-approach and expecting deals throughout the holiday season.  Retailers are changing as well with sales creeping into Thanksgiving promotions and heavy discounts emerging ahead of Black Friday.

According to a recent column in TIME Magazine, “the act of physically shopping on Black Friday is on the decline” and “undeniably losing its importance in the marketplace.” Mobile shopping and sales days like Cyber Monday are diluting the spike of this one day Armageddon, allowing consumers to skip the lines and arm-wrestling for that coveted toy.

A new generation and buying power is unquestionably influencing Black Friday.  And retailers are looking to be part of this economic tradition.  So how can they keep up?

Black Friday offers a unique opportunity for retailers as customers provide deep data footprints and insights into their holiday shopping expectations.  The key to reshaping one of the most important sales days of the year is in that data – it all depends on if it’s interpreted correctly.

Reset the Way You’re Reading the Data

The holiday season delivers data in troves and bows. Whether it’s in-store or online, your customers are telling you what they want, who they’re buying for, and what they expect from retailers. As consumers begin to spread their holiday purchases over a much broader period, it’s important to know why they chose you and that insight is in the data.

Black Friday is great time to reset the way you’re reading data.  Clear your vision path and focus on what you really want for your customer relationships and loyalty program.  Are you focusing on the most important data to achieve that objective? Is your organization distracted by other data points that have emerged?  Remind everyone of what really counts.  Tap an outside data counselor to help refresh this, if needed – it’s essential to getting it right.

Improve Your Data Interpretation

Shopper data has the potential to unlock significant insights ahead of Black Friday, but interpreting it from the wrong angles is a lot like using Google Translate to prepare a proposal written in English for your colleagues in Japan.  It just won’t make sense.  Yet, we see it happen often, particularly with loyalty programs and data-rich seasons like the holidays.  Driving ROI from Black Friday data means mastering the interpretation of the information already in place and using it to build on the customer relationship. By leveraging exiting data and your team’s renewed training, retailers can provide relevant deals in the face of online competitors and – finally – create the personalized experience holiday shoppers are looking for.

Your most loyal customers will turn to you first when scouring the mall for the best Black Friday deals. According to a recent PWC study, which measured the experiences of about 6,000 U.S. consumers across 11 industries, consumer loyalty is “strengthened by shopping experiences that forge powerful psychological connections, and not by points or rewards programs alone.” Revamp direct mailers and holiday store layout to reflect products that customers want to buy during the season at the prices they are looking for.

Retrain In the New Year

If you’ve refreshed your read on data and focused on proper interpretation, you’ve opened the door for significant change and improvement on how you act on your customer insights.  Black Friday 2014 is just ahead – and you’ll go through sales cycles like Back-to-School to get there.  Resolve to read and act on data better in the New Year.  Retraining your team is pivotal to making that important upgrade. And after the holiday rush is gone, evaluate training for your team to evolve with your loyalty program.  Analyzing and acting on Black Friday data and insights requires a constant evaluation of team training and skills to maximize return – especially when the investment is as important as it is for the holiday season.

Dr. Matthew Green is the Managing Director for emnos U.S.

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