Segmentation and personalisation in experiential marketing: Can you be all things to all people?

Right now, companies can discover demographic data and buying habits, and pitch a product before customers even think about buying it.

Despite this, only 7% of organisations make personalisation their top priority. To compound the problem further, research by Infosys suggests 31% of consumers wish their shopping experience was more personalised, while Segment’s 2017 State of Personalisation Report claims only 22% of shoppers are satisfied with the personalisation they see.

Put those together and you discover that advertising, marketing and shopping aren’t personal enough. One more stat to prove the point: 53% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised shopping experiences.

The question for field marketers is, can an in-store event be personalised and, if so, to what extent?

Who’s doing personalisation well?

Let’s talk about Share A Coke first – a massively successful personalised marketing campaign that blends user-generated content, social media and experiences.

The campaign kicked off in Australia in 2012, followed by the UK the following year and the US in 2014. Experiential kiosks set up in public areas allowed visitors to customise a Coke mini can for themselves and send another to a friend via Twitter.

In 2015, personalised glass bottles became an option as e-commerce came into the campaign. In 2016, song lyrics found their way onto the cans – in 2017, surnames. The specific names, nicknames and group names on the cans and bottles change around, targeting new market segments every year. At its initial launch, 76,000 virtual cans were shared online, while baseline consumption of Coca-Cola went up by 7%.

Argos’ Kid In The Ad campaign drew attention, too: the retailer produced over 20,000 personalised Christmas ad slots in December 2017, putting individual customers – or rather, the people who mattered most to the customers – into the key shots at the centre of the ad’s narrative.

Argos secured the buy-in from parents by taking advantage of its customer insight: the firm knew the majority of its customers had children aged 5-15 and were willing to share photos on Facebook, so that’s where Argos asked them to join in.

After a custom Facebook chat experience, plus a short editing and screening process, the personalised ad was #ReadyForTakeOff – and even prompted the customers to share with a trackable hashtag. The ad was well received – Kantar Millwood Brown’s end of season survey, which tracks twelve proven purchase motivators, placed the campaign top for engagement, and Argos saw record sales growth across the last quarter of 2017.

Segmentation – key things for brands to think about

These campaigns work because the brands behind them know their target audience. Coke didn’t have to guess which 200 names to print on cans. They were targeting Millennials, i.e. people born in the 1980s and 1990s, so they could look up birth registrations and know which names would be most widespread in that demographic. Argos knew that their customer base had children and used Facebook – so that was the basis for their campaign and the platform they used to reach out.

The same basic principles work for an in-store or on-street experience. All you have to do is think about:

    • Audience. Who are you actually targeting? This is the key to everything – you need a consumer profile so you know who to entice to the stand, how they like to be spoken to, and what they’re likely to be buying on the day.
    • Goals. What is the next action the in-store activity wants these people to do? Buy something? Sign up for something? Share something? Pitch an action that your target segment is likely to take.
    • What is the experience? If it’s for Millennials, it’s probably worth leading with technology, and emphasising something real and authentic. If it’s for older consumers who are less impressed by tech, a VR headset is probably not where you want to go.
    • The aesthetics of the stand. You’ll have brand guidelines – look, style, tone of voice and so on – so apply them, and customise them if you can. If there’s a specific change you’ve made to your brand’s look for a particular product, have that follow through to the stand. Make sure there’s something there which invites people over and promises something unique.
    • Staffing. The people running the event are as important as the event itself. If you’re aiming at retirees, perhaps older people manning the stand would be preferable to on-trend Gen-Zedders?



Segmentation or personalisation in field marketing?

You can’t be all things to all people. Your field marketing should be highly targeted based on the demographic you’re interested in. But targeting is very different to a personalised experience.

So how can you make something ‘in the moment’ personalised to the people who might be there? One way, potentially, is technology. Could you offer people a QR code via email or app that they can bring with them to an in-store event? That code could trigger something individual and special in-store – melding the physical and digital in delightful ways.

It depends on your brand, of course. Involving customers in something more than simply trying before they buy – allowing them to create with you, and take something away with them – can be highly effective. In 2017, for instance, Lush Cosmetics launched Creative Showcases – a series of in-store events which invited fans of the brand to come and get their hands dirty, not just smelling their products, but making them too.

Not only was this highly shareable on social media, it helped connect the individual with the brand in an exciting way. It wasn’t personalisation in its truest form, but it was an individual experience in which the customer was the star. It was so successful that they approved a series of events in 2018, too.

Another nice example of this is Extract Coffee (Bristol) who offer home barista courses where you get hands-on, brewing your own coffee and really experiencing the brand.

So events can be personalised in a number of creative ways. But it’s perhaps the after events where personalisation can come into its own. If you capture the right data from your customer conversations on the day of your field marketing activities, you can personalise and segment your follow up marketing.

You can go beyond the “use their first name” and actually talk about something they said, something they shared, something they told you, proving that your brand pays attention.

Experiential marketing benefits from segmentation – in fact, every form of marketing does – and offers unique, one to one opportunities to collect the data that makes for top-end customer profiles. It might help question (or back up) some of your existing consumer preconceptions, showing you how you can take the rest of your marketing to the next level

Segmentation for in-store and on-street marketing is the result of customer research into the type of consumer you’re looking for. So naturally, your choice of venue, staff and… well, everything… comes down to your target. You just need to know them, and put that knowhow to good use.

Personalisation requires more thought and more innovation to make it truly original to the individual. It’s possible, and as Coke, Lush and Argos showed, the results can be spectacular.

To see how we’ve helped brands up their marketing game, take a look through our case studies.

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