At Retail Brew’s latest Checkout event, panelists had some hot takes on targeting the right consumers and keeping them coming back

“If you target everybody, then you’re targeting no one,” Jenny Chang, Joan Creative’s senior cultural strategist, said.
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Retail Brew

· 4 min read

A lot has changed for consumers since the pandemic hit. The pandemic, inflation, and fears of a recession have all impacted their shopping habits, which means, ding, ding, ding…another challenge for retailers.

Customers today seek value in the form of more than just a good discount, and they’re not falling for tried and tested retail tactics like sales and promotions anymore—or so we learned during Retail Brew’s latest Checkout event on examining shopper personas.

On the panel were Joan Creative’s senior cultural strategist, Jenny Chang, and Albertsons Media Collective’s senior director of business strategy and marketing science, Claire Wyatt, alongside…well, yours truly (👋).

But ICYMI, don’t fret; we’ve put together a few highlights—including how to figure out who the right consumer is, and how to keep them coming back for more.

Determining the target

Chang and Wyatt agreed that the first step in retaining customers is being able to target the right ones.

For Chang, who works with brands like Fitbit and eBay, the process starts with collecting and synthesizing information from a variety of sources including interviews, focus groups, surveys, and social media.

“We usually have a version [of the target consumer] from the clients,” she explained. “They’ll say, ‘We want to target 18- to 35-year-olds,’ but then we also look at something called psychographics…What that means is understanding their attitudes, their perspectives, their values, which may or may not be tied to age, race, and gender. So instead of 18- to 35-year-olds, we have people who believe that exercise is the No. 1 priority for a healthy lifestyle. Those people are a lot easier to talk to.”

Wyatt said the process was slightly different for Albertsons’s retail media network, which works with multiple clients including Unilever, Mondelez, and Campbell’s.

The company’s main focus is on “big customer data” that it has access to and enables it to gain insights into multiple years of transactions. “We know if they’ve purchased the brand in the past, if they’ve purchased similar brands, [or] maybe they haven’t purchased the brand, but they’ve purchased things in their basket that are like somebody would have purchased their brands,” she said. “It really depends on their objectives overall…But we basically use that data to figure out who we’re going to target.”

Keeping the consumer interested

Still, finding the target customer is a delicate dance and certainly does not mean brands should cast a wide net when trying to reach its customer base, Chang believes. “If you target everybody, then you’re targeting no one,” she said. “I think really narrowing that focus and making sure you’re communicating with the type of people that you actually want to reach and not just a blanket to check all the boxes. That’s always a challenge.”

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Guess who she thinks did a good job of narrowing its focus? Uh…Equinox. We know, but, hear her out. “Equinox alienated a lot of people with their recent campaign, where they said they don’t take any new customers in January, because they only want to take people who are committed year round,” she explained. “But that’s very on brand for them. Honestly, [people]] who are turned off by that probably weren't Equinox customers in the first place.”

Dealing with new challenges

Although our panelists had some hot takes, that doesn’t mean they don’t foresee challenges, like being able to predict customer shopping patterns, in the next year or so. Luckily, Wyatt had some advice for how to face them head-on.

“One of the things that I want to solve this year is: How do we predict what our customers are going to do or intend on doing in the future based on that historic data?” Wyatt said, citing the example of diet soda customers who may not have sampled a Coke Zero product previously. “So we could say, ‘All right, we want them to pivot into this new space.’ But we also know that they buy Diet Coke every two weeks,” she said. “In 12 days, [we] start targeting them with advertising to maybe pivot to this new product. We’re kind of doing really interesting work like that.”

Hungry for more insights? We don’t blame you. Click here to watch the full event.

Stay up to date on the retail industry

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