Like their counterparts in mature retail markets worldwide, Australian consumers love their loyalty programs. This is reflected in the continued growth in loyalty program membership among major Australian retailers, including Woolworths, which saw membership increase by nearly 630,000 customers in a year, according to the company’s full-year fiscal report. 

But for all the many loyalty programs available to Australian shoppers and their widespread participation in them, are retailers getting any closer to knowing their consumers that much better and engaging with them in the most optimal way to influence their decision-making? And are retailers doing everything in their power to deliver a personalised omnichannel experience that meets shoppers wherever they choose to shop, with meaningful promotions and content most relevant to them at that specific moment?

Customer loyalty and effective promotions are more important than ever. The retail industry is becoming increasingly aware that data-driven, personalised promotions are one of the most effective ways to increase business. Retailers are sitting at an intersection where loyalty programs, promotions and digital content can squarely meet members “in the moment.”

Through advances in technology and a new model called “Marketing in the Moment,” retailers will soon be able to deliver marketing content to their users that go beyond simply knowing their purchase history and demographics but also knowing where the user is at that shoppable moment (walking into the store?), what they’re doing (browsing recipes?) and add in any environmental factors around them (e.g., weather, local events etc.) to further personalise and build a true 1-to-1 message. 

Next-level personalisation

Despite high participation with loyalty programs, omnichannel retailers, by and large, have not yet been able to move beyond what is now seen as traditional personalised marketing – sending the best selection of offers available to each customer. It’s a strategy that doesn’t factor in contextual triggers, such as is the basis for the Marketing in the Moment model, but instead focuses on who a shopper is and what’s best to serve them based on what they’ve done before.

In contrast, Marketing in the Moment treats a loyalty program member like a partner, feeding content beyond offers that assist a shopper during their day-to-day journey. It’s about meeting them at various moments and helping them make decisions. It’s about creating a distinct one-to-one connection with that customer.

By leveraging context data and merging that with a deep understanding of the customer, Marketing in the Moment can address each user individually, delivering unique content to the consumer based on the exact moment they are experiencing. For one consumer, it could be providing an offer for 10%-off a product as they shop online at home; for another, it could be a free sample while they are in the aisle. Every customer is different, making the marketing possibilities endless. 

The next ‘near me’ transformation

We believe that Marketing in the Moment has the power to transform marketing in the same way that “near me” transformed the search industry. Over the last ten years, “near me” searches have transformed search advertising, with a third of Google searches involving mobile user locations. 

Marketing in the Moment can have a similar impact on personalisation. Like the “near me” search, location will play a key role in identifying opted-in customers in the moment, where they are, and leading to what they’re doing. Marketing in the Moment factors in key contextual triggers to get to the heart of the moment:

  • Environment. The ability to pull in data around weather, sporting events and community events happening around a customer at any time. 
  • Location. Knowing where the customer is present – browsing at home, in the deli department in-store, in the parking lot, on the subway, etc.
  • Activity. Considering the action, a customer is looking to make right then and there – browsing recipes, redeeming loyalty points, editing a shopping list, etc.
  • System triggers. Identifying what retailer platform the customer or loyalty member is using, like reviewing loyalty info inside the mobile app or engaging on social media.

Retailers can include data sources that touch on these contextual triggers and combine what they know about a customer’s purchase history, demographics and geographics to build meaningful content offers that reflect the customer’s unique journey.

The three Cs

In the Marketing in the Moment model, there are “three Cs” that anchor and build shoppable moments: 

  • Customer. A retailer starts with the information they traditionally have (name, age, demographics, purchase history etc.) and expands on that to look at life stage, dietary needs, price sensitivity, etc. 
  • Context. Secondly, the retailer adds in any contextual data such as detailed above: environment, location, activity and system triggers. 
  • Content. Lastly, the retailer delivers an actionable message, touching on a loyalty point milestone alert, a gift, a coupon, a recipe, a sweepstakes message, etc. 

Marketers can merge data from sources focusing on these three Cs and build multiple messages to meet each customer’s shopping needs at the most optimal time. 

Let’s look at a regional Australian discount pharmacy with a strong loyalty membership base and data around purchases, prescriptions and wellness information through that program. A tissue manufacturer may want a message to the pharmacy’s customers ahead of the cold and flu season. Rather than blanketing one offer to groups of consumers with similar interests and behaviors, the tissue producer with the retailer can deliver unique messages to each consumer in a variety of moments:

  • A loyalty member, a mother of two kids, who has a prescription ready, can get a notification while she’s driving to pick up her kids at school and is only a few miles from a store. The content might be a simple reminder that cold season picks up when kids start school and offer a BOGO deal on tissue boxes when she picks up her prescription. 
  • A different loyalty member, a young single man, could get an app notification in the gym’s parking lot with a message that the cold season has begun and to use hand sanitizer when working out and visit the tissue company’s social media page on tips to stay healthy. 

Marketing in the Moment enables retailers to interact with their users in meaningful ways. It’s not bombarding them with messaging but sending purposeful, relevant content based on key moments throughout the day. The model is built to impact loyalty rewards programs and retail marketing broadly and positively. It’s taking all a loyalty program has to offer and tailoring it to meeting its members at the optimal time they want to engage.

Again, these can be product offers, an update on a loyalty milestone, information about a brand’s sustainability practices, and more. It’s about being a partner in the shopping experience, delivering custom content for each loyalty member—and Marketing in the Moment should only continue to increase the levels of online and in-store engagement Australian retailers are seeing today.

Tim Mason is CEO of Eagle Eye.