The Personalization of Mass Marketing

In Conversation with Frederick Lecoq, SVP of Marketing at FGL Sports and Marks, Canadian Tire Corporation

More than ever, brands are realizing that the old model for engaging with customers has all but evaporated. The move from dictating messaging to having a conversation with your audience is now fundamental to successful marketing in a digital world. And emerging marketing technologies will make that all possible at scale. Instead of connecting with a million people at once, brands will connect with one person — and do it a million times over. It’s a fundamental shift in the way we speak to consumers and one of the 5 keys to unlocking the Decade of the CMO that I discuss in my new whitepaper. Marketers will have the ability to efficiently reach infinite segments of one while personalizing the experience for consumers.

Frederick Lecoq, SVP of Marketing at FGL Sports and Marks, Canadian Tire Corporation

“It’s all about making sure you are able to surface the most relevant offer to the right person at the right time. It’s in context and it’s right-time marketing,” said Frederick Lecoq, SVP, Marketing at retail giant Canadian Tire’s FGL Sports Division. Frederick and I spoke at length about the future of marketing technology and how appealing to individuals en masse will shape consumer strategies over the years come.

“As marketers,” he continued, “we’re no longer going to blast one message to millions of people. Today you should be having a conversation with unique messaging through personalized content to each of your target audiences.”

At Canadian Tire, Frederick has been part of a company-wide embrace of new marketing technology with a focus on increased personalization and ROI. Experiments with digital advertising and Facebook video ads led his bottom line to see sales uplifts across a variety of brands and products — in some cases up to 50%. He continued, “Today, you have to reinvent yourself to get the best of both worlds (across digital and traditional channels).”

At the heart of this mass personalization approach is the power of word of mouth. As studies have shown, word of mouth is one of the most powerful determinants of consumer preference in all of marketing. This has not changed for hundreds of years. But today, with the dominant nature of social media — word of mouth has become a premier form of digital currency. Illustrating its sheer power, social software company Lithium reported that a thousand or more customers can generate as many as a half million conversations about a brand.

But it’s the combination of developing personal relationships and word of mouth at scale that helps drive Frederick and his team at Canadian Tire. “Before mass retail, it was the family store that was in my neighborhood. And there was that personal relationship where the employees knew me, what I cared about, and what I needed. When mass retail came in, we kind of lost that experience, that emotional connection to the store, and that relationship that we had with the other person. With the digital disruption we are facing, retailers need to reinvent themselves in this way. Today’s retail business relies on data-driven content and technology to impact those customer relationships.”

That personal touch will ultimately drive increased ROI for brands like Canadian Tire and many others in 2015 and beyond. As consumers continue to spend more of their time on screens and in devices, those moments that matter will make their way into everyday life, gradually influencing the decisions they will make with their wallets. For example, a study from the Advertising Research Foundation shows that when consumers move into an active shopping state (when they have clear purchase intent), they’ve already picked their preferred brand, and that more than 75% will buy from that brand regardless of any new information they acquire while actively shopping. Further, a recent comScore survey of shoppers shows that 21% said they used social media to help them decide what to buy and 22% said it was important in their final purchase decision.

The question for brands going forward is figuring out how to become an important part of that conversation, because finding relevant, measurable ways to reach users in their daily lives is what will sustain businesses and give them the tools to flourish in the new digital world.

If you are interested in learning more about buyer behavior and how marketers can join the conversation, reach out to me @ashugarg and share your customer innovation stories with us at @foundationcap.


Originally published at foundationcapital.com.

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