How Retailers Can Engage Omnichannel Shoppers in 2021
Marketers and retailers who have long relied on historical consumer behavior data and trends to guide their omnichannel planning and campaigns are facing a new reality in 2021. The pandemic has not only changed the way consumers shop and purchase products, but also how they choose to engage with brands overall.
The biggest change has been the acceleration of all things digital across every audience segment, as even older consumers have been forced to learn and grow comfortable with new devices, tools and platforms.
As a result, retailers need to be increasingly nimble in 2021, even as their marketing mix undergoes a transformation to reflect a new consumer mindset. A marketing plan put in place in January will have to be checked and stress-tested to ensure it’s still the right solution for March.
Some brands and retailers are rightfully taking a cautious approach in the short term, pushing more of their marketing spend to the latter half of 2021 in anticipation that the arrival of vaccines will signal the end of the pandemic. At that point, consumers may start venturing back into brick-and-mortar stores, ending much of the economic uncertainty currently keeping families and individuals from spending as robustly as they did pre-pandemic.
The Continuing Need for Demographic Segmentation
Consumer behavior has changed to some degree as a result of the pandemic. However, marketers and retailers still need to tailor their strategies to best engage three vastly different demographic groups by targeting messages on the platforms they’re most comfortable with.
- Digital natives, aka Gen Z, grew up with social media and smartphones, and they spend 2x to 3x more shopping on social media than the average consumer. More than half of this group have trust in the recommendations of influencers and are comfortable making even big-ticket purchases with their mobile device.
- Digital adapters, aka millennials, are extremely comfortable with mobile and social media. The vast majority are already cutting the cord and consuming content via Connected TV (CTV). More than half of this group also have an Amazon Prime account, and over 80 percent of millennial moms regularly use Pinterest.
- Digital learners, aka Gen X and baby boomers, may be the group whose digital behavior has changed the most as a result of the pandemic. Already comfortable with buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and spending time on social channels like Facebook, older consumers are now more likely to embrace e-commerce and be open to making purchases via social media.
Emerging Channels and the Looming Demise of Third-Party Cookies
Even retailers taking a cautious approach with regard to their marketing spend should be prepared to take advantage of emerging channels like CTV, podcasting, and especially Facebook’s aggressive move into e-commerce through the Facebook Marketplace.
Retailers with a Shopify presence already realize how effective it can be to showcase products on Facebook Marketplace and take advantage of a fairly frictionless path to purchase. That process will only get easier and could eventually lead to Facebook/Instagram featuring ads that are shoppable, backed up with metrics and support that will enable retailers to measure and maximize conversion rates.
These new opportunities are taking place even as marketers and retailers ready for what will likely be a revolution in digital advertising as Google eliminates third-party cookies on all its browsers within the next 12 months. That move is being positioned as a win for privacy advocates, but its net impact on marketers will be to make audience and individual consumer targeting that much more of a challenge.
Retail CMOs should already be taking steps in early 2021 to address the coming end of third-party cookies by working closely with their CTO and data divisions on server integration and systems for the passing of first-party IDs. They should also be open to a bit of a retro advertising renaissance and look to dust off and fine-tune effective tools from the past like mixed-media modeling as a work-around solution.
After the pandemic-induced shocks of 2020, retailers have a right to a bit of optimism that 2021 will be better for those brands and retailers that are nimble and forward-thinking in their approach.
Mike Addonizio is vice president, paid media, Digilant, an omnichannel digital advertising partner built to take advertisers from now to next.
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Mike Addonizio is a digital advertising leader with 12+ years of experience in marketing, media, and strategy. Mike currently serves as the VP, Paid Media at Digilant. Previously, he worked in consumer categories such as luxury jewelry and entertainment and for digital marketing companies such as KiteWheel and Resolution Media. Mike has a broad sense of digital advertising and marketing strategy, culminating in success for clients like PopCorners, Living Proof, Firefly Health, Moo, Bahamas Cruise Line, and Tipico. Mike has a successful track record for developing innovative and measurable engagements brands that drive ROI. He is passionate about emerging digital channels like Connected TV (CTV) and Digital Out of Home (DOOH) and what’s next in advertising measurement. Mike has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Master’s in Information Technology from Bentley University.