Consumers’ expectations for brands continue to shift and evolve, in Australia and around the world. To compete, having a good product or a decent market presence really isn’t enough; today’s retailers need advanced strategies to cut through the noise and gain the trust of their target audiences. This often means abandoning the one-size-fits-all campaigns of the past in favour of targeted, personalised campaigns that connect with customers on a deeper level.

According to Brand Trust in the Age of Information Overload, a recent report from Intuit Mailchimp, 49% of Australians believe that the future of personalisation means they won’t be searching for products and services, but instead expect the right products and services will be coming to them. Younger consumers were especially likely to agree, with 61% of 18-24 year-olds expressing this opinion.

But alongside that desire for personalisation there exists a demand for privacy guardrails; consumers may crave tailored recommendations, but they also need clarity on how their personal information is handled. In Australia, 82% emphasise the need for assurances regarding data usage, marking the highest global figure.

In a digital shopping landscape dominated by the kinds of conveniences that cater to impulse, this data suggests that consumers value brand trust (46%) right alongside commodities like free shipping—and the former isn’t exactly the kind of thing you can make or break with a promo code. So how can marketers use these insights to build durable relationships with target audiences, even through times of high inflation, misinformation, and sensory overload?

The power of personalisation

Today’s retailers need a strategy that not only promotes highly relevant products but also aligns with the aspirations of their customers.

A direct-to-consumer condiment company, for example, isn’t just selling sauce; they’re championing a lifestyle and a food system that prioritises whole ingredients, sustainability, and elevated taste. They can appeal to different sectors of their audience based not only on diet—vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, et al.—but also by intention, whether they’re minimising their carbon footprint or making changes for their health.

Segmentation can open up opportunities for recipe content tailored to dietary restrictions. Automations can encourage first-time customers to become brand evangelists by reminding them to restock or nudging them to write a review. And a multi-channel approach can ensure that the curious consumer who found the product through a food influencer will remember to follow through with a purchase.

62% of consumers say they’re willing to share their data for more value and personalisation. In return, they expect these kinds of thoughtful, targeted campaigns—and marketers must adapt or risk being left behind.

Adopting AI with precision

Adopting a strategy that leans into personalization at scale can feel out of reach for marketers who are facing limited budgets or feeling overwhelmed by data management complexities. But increasingly, AI can handle a lot of the heavy lifting by analysing large sets of consumer data with speed. Revealing patterns, preferences, and common past behaviours can give way to predicting future actions, enabling marketers to anticipate needs and deliver proactive, personalised recommendations.

Generative AI can also drive efficiencies, and locally, the reception to this technology is largely positive: 40% of Australians express that they are comfortable with AI supporting human-made content. There’s still a desire for human-made comms—more than half (52%) of Australian consumers want brand communications crafted by humans—but increasingly, we’re seeing top marketers embracing the combination of human creativity with AI-powered precision and speed.

When marketers use AI to automate tasks like recipient segmentation or predictive analysis, their customers reap the benefits of fewer, better messages. Your audience learns that when they see an email from your brand, it’s probably something they actually want to consume—an accomplishment that’s all the more relevant when you consider that 37% of consumers decide to engage with an email primarily based on who it’s from. And your business sees higher returns, too: Mailchimp customers see 141% more revenue on average from their connected stores when they use AI-built predicted segments with their emails than when they don’t.

A comprehensive guide to long-term relationships

Once you have reached the customer, it’s time to apply the strategies that will retain them. This is a crucial moment for fostering long-term relationships that benefit both parties.

  • Understand your audience: Be responsive to consumer concerns and be transparent when you have to make a tough decision, such as increasing prices.
  • Demonstrate your values: Australian consumers are drawn to purpose-led brands, so marketers should not shy away from integrating their principles into their brand identity.
  • Offer discounts and rewards: Rewards remain a strong purchasing motivator, so aim to give customers little incentives to keep them engaged. You might consider personalising your discounts, too, offering different deals for new customers or those with a high lifetime value.
  • Leverage customer data wisely: Continuously refine when and how you reach your customers. When done properly, personalisation can help to build customer trust by delivering the right message at the right time. But be transparent along the way, and ensure you are taking the proper precautions to safeguard customer information.

Strengthening connections for a lasting impact

In the dynamic context of consumer behaviours, marketers who build resilient relationships will be rewarded. Whether it’s through compelling storytelling, tailored recommendations, or genuine engagement, every interaction is an opportunity to shape how a customer feels about your brand. By prioritising authenticity, relevance, and personalised experiences, brands can establish deep-rooted connections with their audiences, fostering loyalty that transcends trends.

Adam Anger is chief sales officer at Intuit Mailchimp.