Last week, we hosted our final two webinars of The Next Normal series, sharing real-world insights from Salesforce, Markle, and DEG thought leaders. These two sessions focused on what lies ahead in shopping behaviors and building lasting loyalty.

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Let’s dive into the main takeaways.

The Future of Shopping

Salesforce Global Director of Retail Industry Solutions JR Linne joined DEG Associate Director of Retail and Consumer Goods Jenn Horner to discuss the current shopping trends and consumer behaviors and how they play a role in what’s to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted the anticipated growth of retail sales this year, yet it has also shed a light on where consumer trends are shifting, albeit in a quicker timeframe.

Three takeaways from this session were:

1. We’ve seen two years of digital transformation in the last two months.

Many brands have upgraded their technology or added new platforms to offer contactless delivery and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) options, which may not have been previously available. Consumers are also adapting and using technology to connect with the brands they are loyalty to and those that provide the essentials they need while staying at home.

2. If the pandemic has taught U.S. consumers anything, it’s that almost anything we want or need can be purchased and delivered to our homes.

Online ordering has skyrocketed as grocery stores and restaurants have added contactless delivery, while powerhouses like Amazon, Walmart, and Target have grown their delivery business in the last few months. This creates opportunities for brands to provide convenience—now and in the future—while building relationships with consumers that’ll last well beyond the pandemic.

3. As consumers begin to return to activities they did before the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, shopping is high on the list of experiences people miss.

Shopping is a social activity. While new technology, BOPIS options, and contactless delivery are driving convenience, it’s the socialization that consumers are eager to enjoy again. Brands will have to adapt their in-store experiences to protect customers and staff when brick-and-mortar stores reopen. With limited numbers of people in the store, businesses should look at how the digital and in-store experiences can be blended, considering subscription models, AR/VR, and voice-operated technology to personally engage customers.

Building Loyalty Beyond the Next Transaction

DEG COVID-19 Thought Leadership

DEG Associate Director of Loyalty Strategy Lisa Graves discussed the art of building emotional loyalty with Merkle Senior Director of Strategy & Insights Gina Fleck.

While consumers expected attainable rewards, engagement that connect across the customer journey, personalized experiences, and gratitude and acknowledgement before COVID-19, there are a few new challenges. Economic pain is growing as many consumers find themselves without jobs or furloughed. Some states are beginning to reopen, while others are seeing the amount of positive COVID-19 cases in their states grow.

Three takeaways from this session were:

1. Changes in behavior as a result of COVID-19 are amplifying the experience gap.

Brands need to leverage technology and tools to meet customers where they are today to sustain and build loyalty. Coupling a loyalty program with digital tools and technology, brands can help direct customers to try new experiences and reward them for continuing to interact with the brand in new ways.

2. Loyalty is the outcome of expertly connected experiences.

Every interaction with customers is an opportunity to build loyalty. And customers expect it.

Engaging with a brand is no longer a siloed activity, but one that crosses channels and platforms, both physical and digital. This means brands should dive into how their customers are engaging with them and connecting the channels used to craft a cohesive experience that combines individual touchpoints to create lasting relationships.

3. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to understand your customers’ mindsets, behaviors, and attitudes to connect with them through personalized experiences.

To create real emotional connection with your customers, you need to know them on a more personal level. Gaining a holistic view of your customers will allow you to better understand what consumers are seeing, hearing, thinking, and doing.

Gathering this data can involve asking for direct feedback via surveys or panels, re-evaluating your personas, segments, and target audiences with new purchase data, or all of the above.

View The Next Normal webinars on demand

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Through four, one-hour sessions, we explored the next evolution in marketing with guest experts from Forrester, Nestle, Salesforce, Merkle, and DEG sharing strategies and insights. Be our (online) guest and access the recordings and complementary helpful resources—including presentation decks and additional thought leadership—to start planning for what lies ahead for your brand.

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