Boost Brand Loyalty with AI Merchandising: An Insight into 2024 Trends

Calling all retailers and CPG brands! Are you prepared for a revolutionary shift in retail? The industry is constantly evolving, and in order to stay ahead of the game, CPGs need to invest in the right tools and use AI algorithms to make data-driven decisions for your brand. With the rise of e-commerce and the growing importance of customer loyalty, it’s crucial to have AI enhanced merchandising strategies in place. And with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), retailers can improve the shopping experience in both physical and digital spaces. In today’s fast-paced and competitive market, AI merchandising is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

The Power of AI in Retail Transformation

Embark on a transformative journey with AI, the linchpin of retail innovation, where it morphs from a buzzword to the core of consumer journeys. This revolution goes beyond data sets and analytics for forecasting and optimization, but instead lays the groundwork for hyper-personalized marketing strategies that ensure impactful new product placements and promotions. AI’s magic unfolds in offering targeted suggestions akin to a trusted friend’s guidance, a feature Shopkick harnesses to reward users for interactions and purchases. This AI-driven personalization anticipates and satisfies consumer desires, propelling the customer experience into a realm of anticipatory engagement and nurturing unshakable brand loyalty.

Spotlight on Success: Nike and Sephora’s AI Triumphs

In the arena of AI innovation and customer data, Nike and Sephora stand as titans, showcasing how technology can transform the consumer journey into something extraordinary. Sephora, a beauty behemoth, leverages AI and customer preferences to deliver a personalized shopping odyssey. With its app acting as a digital makeup artist that doesn’t require you to be in-store, Sephora offers customized product suggestions, making each user’s experience deeply personal and highly engaging. This technological embrace extends beyond convenience, inviting users to dive into a world of beauty exploration, where their shared experiences amplify brand loyalty and create a vibrant, community-driven narrative.

Meanwhile, Nike is breaking records with its AI-driven approach to product design and customer service. By utilizing AI to generate unique designs, Nike taps into the pulse of consumer demand for distinctiveness and self-expression. Their application of AI in predicting the perfect shoe fit eliminates the uncertainties of online shopping, ensuring every purchase feels tailor-made. This precision not only enhances the shopping and user experience but also fortifies customer trust and satisfaction.

Together, Nike and Sephora illuminate the path forward, demonstrating that AI, when applied with insight and ingenuity, crafts experiences that resonate on a personal level, with customer engagement that sets the stage for a future where brand engagement is not just observed but passionately felt.

Overcoming Consumer Skepticism: The Role of Transparency and Trust

Navigating the maze of consumer skepticism is a challenge that demands unwavering commitment to transparency and trust. With 76% of consumers wary of AI’s potential for misinformation and 38% feeling uneasy about new tech in their grocery aisles, the call to action for brands is clear: step up and reassure your audience. This isn’t about merely disclosing how AI tools are applied in the shopping experience; it’s about championing ethical technology use, fiercely guarding consumer privacy, and standing as a beacon of data security. To quell the fears and anxieties swirling around AI, brands must embark on a mission of enlightenment, shedding light on the mechanisms of AI with an honesty that resonates and reassures. The path forward involves not just using AI responsibly, but communicating its benefits and safeguards with a clarity that cuts through the noise, demonstrating a steadfast dedication to consumer well-being. This commitment to ethical AI use is the linchpin in cultivating a landscape where trust flourishes and brand loyalty thrives in the rich soil of transparency.

AI-Enhanced Merchandising Strategies That Connect

Embrace the cutting-edge revolution of AI-enhanced merchandising strategies to forge unbreakable bonds with your consumers. This isn’t about simply meeting expectations; it’s about exceeding them, creating an environment where personalized experiences become the cornerstone of every interaction. Imagine leveraging AI to offer not just any product recommendation, but the perfect suggestion that resonates with each individual’s unique tastes and needs. Picture AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants transforming customer service from a routine task into a delightful journey of discovery and support. These strategies are about crafting an unparalleled shopping adventure that makes consumers feel recognized, valued, and understood on a profound level. Implementing such AI-driven tactics propels your brand into a realm of unmatched engagement and loyalty, where every marketing effort is not just seen but felt deeply by your audience. This is the era of personalized merchandising, where AI is your ally in delivering not just products, pricing strategies or inventory management, but experiences that captivate and enchant, paving the way for a future where brand connections are not just formed—they’re fortified.

However, as consumers face an influx of generative AI content, there lies a crucial need to reassure them about the safety and security of these advancements throughout their decision making process. Winning customer trust involves convincingly demonstrating that AI tools are not just about automation and deals but are firmly anchored in stringent data protection measures.

The Future is Now: Embracing AI for Retail Success

For brands to thrive, adopting AI-enhanced merchandising strategies is not just advantageous—it’s imperative. Enter Shopkick, pioneering the way by utilizing AI to make each shopping journey not only seamless but deeply personalized throughout their customer journey. This goes beyond mere convenience, as Shopkick leverages consumer data with transparency, ensuring a shopping experience that is both intuitive and enriching. By engaging customers through AI-powered navigation aids and personalized recommendations, Shopkick is setting a benchmark for how brands can foster customer satisfaction, loyalty and trust. It’s a testament to how the strategic application of AI can safeguard consumer data and metrics, while simultaneously amplifying the shopping experience. In an era where operational efficiency and consumer engagement are paramount, tools like Shopkick are not just beneficial; they are essential. As we step into this new dawn of retail, embracing AI with a focus on ethical use and consumer benefits isn’t just the smart choice—it’s the only way forward for brands aiming for sustained success and relevance.

Want to uncover other trends reshaping the retail landscape? Check out the full 2024 Trends report for actionable insights.

Sticky CX: How to Design Experiences that Keep Customers Coming Back

Creating ‘sticky’ customer experience (CX) is about more than just brand loyalty – it’s about staying relevant and interesting to customers wherever they are in a buying cycle. In fact, argues Nick Pearse of agency Vertical Leap, the secret to sticky CX is engaging customers when buying intent is lowest: right after purchase.

Customer experience (CX) design acknowledges the importance of interactions between brands and consumers at every stage of the consumer journey. This starts as soon as someone discovers a new brand and culminates with a purchase, but continues long after purchase. Top brands develop sticky customer experiences that compel people to keep buying from them after the initial purchase. This is critical in the age of consumer power.

Why is a sticky CX important?

Sticky CX design aims to convert new customers and maximize the percentage of them who keep buying from you. It’s more expensive to win new customers than convert previous buyers, especially if you provide a quality customer experience. Returning customers spend 67% more on brands they trust.

Customer stickiness is an important measure of the quality of experience you provide across the entire customer cycle (lead capture, lead nurturing, the buying process, product/service quality, the post-purchase experience).

The buying process and post-purchase experiences are particularly important, as we’ll see when we look at the top reasons behind repeat purchases.

By optimizing the entire customer experience, a sticky CX elevates KPIs that drive revenue and growth, including repeat purchases; customer retention, value, lifespan, loyalty and satisfaction; purchase value; positive reviews; brand engagement, citations and reputation – and all the way down to revenue, ROI and growth.

To create a sticky CX, you have to optimize the whole customer experience – before, during and after the purchase – to maintain engagement and motivate customers to remain active in the buying cycle.

Customer stickiness vs customer loyalty

Customer loyalty focuses on the emotional connection between brands and consumers; stickiness places more emphasis on repeat transactional value.

Customers can remain loyal to your brand as long as they don’t buy similar products or services from rival companies, which doesn’t mean they’re necessarily buying from you as often as they could.

Designing a sticky customer experience doesn’t only strive to maximize customer loyalty but also customer value by increasing the frequency of purchases and/or the value of purchases throughout the relationship.

What makes customers buy again?

According to Bread’s 2020 Consumer Shopping Survey, convenience is the top reason shoppers make repeat purchases from an online retailer.

While it’s important to address consumer priorities, CX design encompasses more than the deciding factors consumers face on product pages. Companies need to craft experiences that maximize customer satisfaction, keep them engaged when they’re not buying, and time motivational messages with precision to inspire new purchase impulses.

Frictionless buying (optimizing the buying process for repeat purchases) is important, but you should also keep an eye on other metrics:

• Time-to-value: Deliver value as quickly as possible after each new purchase.

• Maximize value: Help customers get the most out of their most recent purchase.

Lifecycle data: Analyze purchase habits to learn when different customers types are ready and most likely to buy again – and what they’ll buy.

You can also motivate engagement, giving customers a reason to keep visiting your website with temporary deals and rapid product rollouts. It helps to identify VIPs and give repeat customers special status and rewards for repeat purchases. Instant responses are useful here, giving priority support to your best customers.

You can use these efforts to build a community, using customers to drive engagement. It helps to build an emotional connection between customers and the brand. Showcasing loyal customers in social campaigns and putting the spotlight on them is good too.

Then, of course, there are the usual tactics for customer retention, such as cross-selling and upselling. Retention may be a key part of building a sticky CX but you can’t rely on transactional interactions alone – you also have to optimize the gaps between purchases and nurture emotional motivations.

The secret to sticky CX is keeping customers engaged after their most recent purchase, while intent is at its lowest, especially across channels that you can use to build motivation over time.

This article was written by Nick Pearse from The Drum and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to

Marrying Consumer Expectations With Values

How to align brand values to today’s consumer expectations was at the center of topics covered at the recent 2022 CEO Summit hosted in New York City by the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Retail Leaders Circle. The conference’s theme, “Values + Purpose: Leading the Neo-Renaissance,” offered a fascinating look into how some of the nation’s top brand and retail leaders such as Pfizer’s Sally Sussman and Revlon’s Debra Perelman among others are innovating today in order to remain relevant tomorrow.

Here are my top takeaways:

Gen Z’s influence continues to impact everyone; Sustainability is sticky

Throughout the CEO Conference, every speaker touched upon issues that are being driven by Gen Z, from community building to saving the planet. First Insight’s recent survey in partnership with Wharton reveals that Gen Z is using its collective voice to influence all generations, and that is especially true when it comes to sustainability. Retailers, brands, and manufacturers need to pay close attention because by 2031, Gen Z’s income will surpass that of millennials. Gen Z values sustainability over brand name, will pay more for sustainable products, and is convincing their Gen X parents to do the same.

As retailer and brand CEOs grapple with making sure that their brand continues to resonate with younger consumers, they need to actively listen to these consumers to understand how to improve their efforts on sustainability.

Leveraging the data collected from these conversations is one way that companies can evolve to achieve more purpose driven initiatives, remain inclusive, and meet both employee and consumer expectations.

Safety and Health More Important Than Ever

The pandemic brought to light so many ways we’d been doing business that simply won’t work in the future in the same way – from toxic work environments to overcrowded offices. However, the biggest a-ha moment for many was that employers need to demonstrate their commitment to health and safety to their employees and customers. These new values transcend simply providing a safe or healthy working, shopping, or dining environment. For instance, the best employers now offer resources and assistance for improving the mental and physical health of their employees. Retailers will need to continue to ensure that their customers feel safe shopping in physical retail. They can do this by expanding upon curbside pickup, same day delivery, and easy access to the most popular items. In addition, upgrading physical store locations with better technology can mitigate the exposure to too many people.

Recommerce Is the Next Big Thing

Even Boomers are embracing recommerce or purchases of previously-owned items according to the First Insight Wharton Sustainability report. Boomers are now 56% more likely to engage in recommerce models than they were just two years ago. More than half of those surveyed prefer to shop resale formats for a variety of sustainability reasons. It’s clear that the consumer has become much more complex in a relatively short period of time, and retailers will need to go the extra mile to keep up. For example, First Insight data reveal that among the various sustainable shopping methods, 65% of consumers across all generations prefer brand or retailer-operated recommerce. Yet as third-party resale brands such as ThredUp, The RealReal and Depop continue to develop brand affinity among younger consumers, brands and retailers are giving away the business that they could be generating from new retail formats. Retailers and brands must begin testing and learning with new formats today so that they can retain and attract consumers tomorrow. The best way to start is to listen to your consumers to understand the way they like to shop.

Supply Chain Innovations

One of 2021’s biggest topics and challenges for retailers and consumers alike, supply chain challenges continue to exist. Labor shortages, manufacturing challenges, inflation, and, now, the war in the Ukraine are a few of the factors contributing to challenges for global businesses. The bright side is that the covid pandemic forced manufacturers and brands to take a good hard look at their supply chain and make fundamental changes to improve it. When it wasn’t broken, there was no incentive to fix it. But now that the cracks have turned to fissures, supply chain executives realize that supply chain disruptions are just another cost of doing business. Manufacturers, shippers, and retailers know that the future supply chain must be more sustainable and highly collaborative. Maximizing labor, containers, warehouse space, and last mile within a collective will be more efficient and sustainable in the long run. Digitizing the product creation and buying process will ensure that the products that brands and retailers produce and ship will actually be the ones that their consumers want to buy when they are on the shelves.

In the end, it is clear that we are headed to a more dynamic (meaning … CHANGING) and yes less predictable time ahead. As many noted, one thing is for certain, understanding where people are “moving to” versus where they “have been” will be a new and needed skill set while remaining agile enough to listen, understand and respond.

This article was written by Greg Petro from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to


Takeaways from the Summer Fancy Food Show: Insights, Trends, and Full Stomachs

       The world has yet to stop shifting dramatically. From the pandemic to inflation, retailers and brands alike have had to quickly adjust expectations and strategies, with the risk of being left behind. This was on full display at the Fancy Foods Show put on by the Specialty Foods Association (SFA). From Sunday, June 12 to Tuesday, June 14, the Javits Center in the heart of New York City was packed with vendors, distributors, established and emerging brands, all fighting to stand out from the crowd and breakthrough to the thousands of attendees who perused their booths. By far, the most common strategy brands utilized to differentiate themselves was by promising a healthy product. As David Lockwood, a leading Consumer Market Research and Strategy Consultant, stated in his presentation on the state of the specialty food industry, “what we eat continues to be more important to the average citizen”. This was apparent, as it was nearly impossible to walk down a show aisle and not see multiple booths supporting products that were organically sourced, keto-friendly, and plant-based, along with a number of other health benefits. According to a recent SFA report, in collaboration with SPINS (a wellness-focused data technology company), 2020 saw a 22% growth in specialty plant-based sales performance over 2019, and 2021 saw an additional 4% increase in the category.

            While healthier alternatives shine as the key component of many products, it’s not the only trend that shoppers are favoring. The pandemic may have slowed life down for some, but the world still moves quickly, and consumers are careful with how they spend their time. Convenience continues to grow as a major factor in which products shoppers add to their carts. On the list of the fastest-growing food categories from 2019 to 2021, are refrigerated (ready-to-drink coffees and teas) and frozen (appetizers and snacks) products. The data aligns with consumer sentiment here, as 22% of consumers say they would be motivated to try a new product if it came in a prepared pack, 53% anticipate using convenience foods in the future, and 76% say they are looking for foods that are easy to prepare (Mattucci). Make no mistake, shoppers do not want to sacrifice the quality of the products in their cart, as 67% of US consumers think it’s worth paying more for products of higher quality (Mattucci).

       Where there are positives for brands to latch onto, there are also cautions for them to avoid. It is important for brands to capitalize on trends, but not fall into the trap of fads. A final, but no less important takeaway from the fun and insightful three days of trying new products and hearing from industry leaders; brands and companies can no longer confine themselves to the aisles. As social responsibility has become a priority for many people, consumers look to purchase from brands that reflect their values. Now more than ever, consumers are paying attention to the brands they buy from and the impact those brands have on the world around them. It can be a fine line to walk between the quality, convenience, health, and social responsibility that shoppers are looking for, but those brands that accomplish it will be heavily rewarded. It was an exciting three days in New York City, but more than anything it was great to be back, walking the floor and talking face-to-face with companies from across the world. We hope to see you next year at the Winter Fancy Foods Show!

Mattucci, S. (2021). (rep.). The Future of Pasta, Rice, and Noodles Market Report 2021. Mintel.
Retrieved June 17, 2022, from 

By: Nick Schramm 

Celebration of Pride

On Thursday, June 9th Shopkick attended the Brand Innovators Pride & Inclusivity Summit hosted by LVMH luxury brands and The Bar, an LVMH Employee Resource Group (ERG) with members who self-identify as part of the queer community along with allies. The ERG meets regularly to promote awareness, empowerment, and career advancement. As part of their support, The Bar will march together in the upcoming NYC Pride parade this Sunday. 

The summit audience was inspired by dozens of companies including Clarks, Dove, and the event hosts, LVMH, sharing how they are promoting inclusivity and awareness in their organizations. After having the privilege of attending the event, we wanted to document a few of our key takeaways. 

Reach Out

For Tara McRae, Clarks CMO, inclusivity is about community outreach. The moderator posed the question, “how does a 200+-year-old shoe brand founded in the UK maintain relevancy?” Clarks weighed in that they remain fresh and relevant with several initiatives, spotlighting their ambassador program. Recently, Clarks held a contest where the winning shoe design was produced and sold to key retailers. Clarks also hosts a mentor/mentee program where both parties support each other and share their own extensive knowledge regarding inclusivity.  

In a separate conversation, Esther Whalte Cisneros of the Estee Lauder Company shared the advice: “Start small.” “Our products must look like our consumers, so we started with our skin tones.” ELC also added initiatives such as recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). 

Tune In

Revry is a streaming network that highlights LGBTQ-first TV. Paul Kontonis, Chief Marketing Officer, shared that Revry is a “free, queer TV that you just might lean into more than just during the month of June! Marketers like Lexus and McDonalds share their messages all year long.” On Revry, you’ll find movies, series, and live TV. You can tune in on Roku, AppleTV, DirectTV, Samsung, and more! 

End Hair Discrimination 

Studies found that some children as young as 5 years old have experienced negative comments and discrimination about their hair. Erin Goldson, brand manager at Unilever and Dove Hair, is helping to change lives by promoting legislation (the CROWN Act Petition) on the state level with 500,000 signatures. Help make a change for our children by signing the CROWN act petition here.  

Shopkick Pride Month 2022

To continue standing as members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, Shopkick and Trax launched the first Employee Resource Group, the LGBTQIA+ ERG! What month could be more fitting than June, the month we raise the rainbow flag up high and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community for its historic accomplishments and collective efforts to continue to advocate for a more inclusive world. This year, to show support, banners were created, virtual meeting backdrops were implemented, company-wide guest speakers were invited, pride-related offers were in-app, and donations to LGBTQ+ organizations were made.  

Katrina Kibben, one of our guest speakers and CEO/founder of Three Ears Media, spoke about how to build belonging in the workplace, especially regarding the proper pronoun usage. A critical part of helping people thrive at work is creating a safe space to collaborate and connect. Building belonging at work starts with the employee experiences, taking small steps that lead to more inclusive communication, and taking notice of the gendered language that is intertwined into everyday speech. 

Creating a safe workspace also starts with understanding that pronouns mean something different to everyone. Pronouns are a special and unique way people identify how they feel in this world. To build an inclusive workplace, it’s important to understand what pronouns are and why they are important. If you want to learn more about building belonging in the workplace, check out Katrinas site here. 

For the pride-related in-app offers, Shopkick collaborated with brands and retailers like Ulta Beauty, QVC & HSN,, and Walmart for pride gift guides, apparel, and book lists. 

 Shopkick is also thrilled to announce we have donated to The Trevor Project in honor of Pride Month. The Trevor Project is an American nonprofit organization that focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and question youth. To donate or learn more about The Trevor Project, follow this link. 

By: Stella Araya-Weil 


2022 Summer Fancy Foods Show: What We Expect

On Sunday, June 12th, the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show kicks off, and Shopkick is excited to join the industry’s top emerging and leading brands from the first session to the last on Tuesday, June 14th.  

Dedicated exclusively to specialty foods and beverages, the Fancy Foods Show is the industry’s largest show in the United States, with over 10,000 participants at its Winter 2022 conference in Las Vegas and expecting over double for the Summer session. While we are undoubtedly looking forward to hearing about (and hopefully tasting) the latest innovations in the space, Shopkick is especially interested in the trends and insights that the “thousands of dollars worth of category data and analysis” can offer (SFA, n.d.).   

After generating over 26.6 million in-aisle engagements and 1.86 million purchases in the Food and Beverage category in 2021, Shopkick is enthusiastic about increasing these numbers in 2022 and beyond by keeping current with the direction of the industry. Coupling the forward-thinking knowledge we will gain from the Fancy Foods Show along with our first-party research, we’re confident in the innovation Shopkick can drive both for our current partners, future partners, and our users. 

While at the show, we’ll have our eye on innovations in the health and wellness spaces, as our research shows that consumers are increasingly concerned with what they put in their bodies and how it affects them and the world around them. Shopkick’s users are making an effort to include plant-based products in their shopping carts, with 49% doing so at least once every few grocery trips citing general health benefits, the fact that they feel better, and weight loss, as the three main reasons behind doing so. Shoppers are not just basing their cart decisions on what’s in the product, but also on what’s around it. Over 59% of surveyed users are more likely to purchase a brand with sustainable packaging than one without, 38% going as far as to say they would pay more for a product if it was sustainably packaged. Brands need to be ready to align their values with those of the consumer, and we’re excited to learn how the leading brands are doing so. 

There is no telling what innovations will come from this event, but we know whatever they will be, they’ll have a distinct and veritable impact on the food and beverage industry. Shopkick will be there for every moment, and if you’d like to discuss the industry, trends, or how Shopkick can help your brand awareness, you can schedule a meeting with us here or contact us. If you can’t join us there, be sure to keep an eye out for a follow-up article on what we learned as a result of hearing from and speaking to those that are at the forefront of the industry! 

By: Nick Schramm 

Specialty Food Association. (n.d.). Reasons to attend the summer fancy food show. Specialty Food Association. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from

The Blurring Sweets & Snacks Category: Creating Experiences with Indulgence and Function

It isn’t news that the world shifted dramatically because of the pandemic. Most of the conversations have been around tangible scenarios – i.e., where we live, where we work, and where we shop. These changes have brought tectonic shifts that grab the headlines in real estate market shifts, The Great Resignation, and the management battles of hybrid vs. office.  

The next phase of the impact of these shifts on the consumer product goods / fast-moving consumer goods (CPG and FMCG) industry will determine the leaders and laggards in the hearts and minds of consumers and shoppers. The start of these shifts was on full display at the 25th Annual Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago before Memorial Day. 

One overarching trend that was evident was how the industry has moved towards crucial areas such as sustainability, food sensitivities, and organic production – due to the shift towards brand purpose and consumer trends towards healthier options.  

One other critical area that manufacturers demonstrated was based on consumer insights intersected with meeting the shopper needs of portion/calorie control, portability, and the collision of flavors – in sweet & salty, sweet & spicy, and tons of licensed products to expand flavor profiles across products.

Some other observations across the show floor included: 

Shark Tank Effect:

It seems as if there are more and more food products featured each week on the Shark Tank, and that’s evident through seeing previous founders and their products on display.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see a “Shark Tank” section at future events! 

Selective Indulgence Meets Choiceful Health:

Manufacturers were not shy about providing more and more indulgent options – but only when married with single-serve, individually wrapped and other easy to snack yet made to not overindulge packaging.

Founder and Product Stories:

In addition to the trend toward purpose-driven brands, the industry was eager to put their story on display. In many cases, the story of the founder and their inspiration and life stories while larger manufacturers shared key insights around the shopping experience and the need for added value, the shopping experience, and the value/deal impacting the perceived quality. 

One consistent driver of these product and category trends that was evident was that the breakthrough products and differentiators for success at the shelf were going to be made through value and experiences.  Shoppers want their products and retailers to provide value and be mindful about what truly denotes value – aligning with core values, additional value beyond couponing, and having fun along their customer journey. Consumers and shoppers want social and fun – and want to feel like they are part of a community.  Sometimes that community is exhibited via social and sustainable values, and sometimes it is in the form of how they attain added value within their purchases. The industry also shows that consumers will find value in an explosion of flavors and gravitate towards products that lead the charge across the themes that were on display. Brands need to differentiate now more than ever – and get the shopper to try their new products, invest in them and understand their defined value. 

By: Paul Robinson 

As one of the leading engagement opportunities for brands, products, and retailers, Shopkick users echo this need.  If you would like to understand how your brand can create value without eroding your margin, read our success stories and contact Shopkick

3 things brands need to know about Gen Z’s CX expectations

Don’t look now, but Gen Zers are graduating college. They’re starting salaried jobs. And they’ve got money to spend. 

But there’s mounting evidence that companies across industries aren’t ready for these digital natives (those born late 90s and after). 

According to the latest Broadridge CX and Communications Insights survey, which polled 3,025 consumers in North America, two-thirds (66%) of Gen Zers say that most of the companies they do business with need to improve their CX. 

While CX expectations are high, there’s significant upside for companies that deliver. Recent estimates indicate there are around 68 million Gen Zers in the United States, the oldest of whom are 24, and 74% of them say they would spend more money with a company that provides a good customer experience. Capture this audience now and you’ve got a long runway ahead. 

The key to a creating a better CX for Gen Zers? Personalization and customization: 77% of Gen Z believe it’s important for businesses to customize interactions, while 76% are looking for companies to send them digital communications they can customize based on their preferences.

Personalization involves delivering information and content that matches customer expectations based on their specific point in the customer lifecycle. That means accounting for prior interactions with your company, then anticipating what they want to do next. Customization, meanwhile, is about offering a configurable experience that lets customers take a greater role in deciding how to access information, where and when. 

To execute both effectively, you need the infrastructure to create and deploy digital interactions across relevant touchpoints. As you strategize ways to deliver for Gen Zers, here are three capabilities you should consider investing in. 

1. QR codes are back

If this year’s Super Bowl commercial from Coinbase is any indication, QR codes are back – and for good reason. The ad simply contained music and a QR code bouncing around on a black screen, yet more than 20 million people scanned it, causing the Coinbase website to crash. 

The value that QR codes bring to customer communications has not gone unnoticed: 78% of Gen Zers say they expect to see QR codes on printed communications. 

QR codes give customers the option to easily move from printed communications to a mobile environment where they can take action or engage with a more customizable digital experience. 

Why do QR codes work? Well, it turns out that, despite the general trend toward digital, 90% of Gen Z still values getting some physical mail communications from the companies they do business with. So there’s opportunity to deliver engaging digital experiences, even while paper communications persist. 

2. Predictive analytics and preference management

Nearly half of all Gen Z respondents said they’d be willing to share personal information to enhance the customer experience. That’s promising because true personalization in marketing requires both data and the capability to easily access and employ that data to inform your next customer interaction. 

To that end, it’s advantageous to invest in predictive analytics and preference management. Available platforms enable marketing teams to automate omni channel communications based on customer behavior, delivery preferences and expressed interests (measured by various metrics including clicks, dwell time, account data, past purchases, etc.). 

By aggregating and analyzing all existing customer data, predictive analytics will help make informed decisions about what this generation – across a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences – needs or wants next. Along

with a deeper understanding of their individual preferences, you can establish next-best-action logic to automatically trigger the appropriate communication. 

Whether you aim to cross sell, increase engagement, boost loyalty or make an account stickier, the key – as always – is to nail timing and relevance. An analytics engine tied to your communications platform can help make it happen. 

3. Customizable digital documents

With Gen Z moving to mobile to pay bills and interact with companies more than any other generation, ensuring digital documents are customizable and tailored is imperative. When it comes to bills, statements, and other transactional communications, it’s important to think beyond static PDFs. Static PDFs are limited for several reasons. First, they don’t render well on mobile screens. Second, you can’t interact with them. Customers are forced to stay passive consumers of generic information. 

This generation wants to see interactive bills and statements, providing them with the ability to choose which information to hide, view and further explore. This also means providing easy access to customer support should they need it. 

Importantly, it’s not just Gen Zers who want this. In fact, 67% of all survey respondents said they’d like to see companies implement digital interactive documents with customizable sections. 

Although some companies have been able to wow Gen Zers with innovative experiences, the majority continue to offer experiences designed more than a decade ago. The need to innovate is imminent. Many organizations still rely on complex legacy systems for creating and managing communications, which limits their ability to customize and personalize the experience. 

The good news is that there are communications platforms designed to make it easier than ever to catch up. Gen Zers are moving quicker than many companies. Organizations that don’t invest in the latest technologies risk missing out on understanding and capturing this critical group of digital natives in years to come. 

Matt Swain is managing director for Broadridge Communications and CX Consulting. 

This article was written by Matt Swain from The Drum and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to

Omicron Impact: Consumers Experiencing a Shortage of Retail Workers and Increased Wait Times at Checkout

Shopkick survey finds 73 percent of consumers are vaccinated but still expect retailers to enforce safety precautions as Omicron cases continue to rise

Although it is officially 2022, it may feel like years past as the Omicron variant continues to sweep the nation, forcing Americans to face another year of the pandemic. The impact is real, as the majority of consumers (73 percent) say they have noticed a shortage of retail workers while shopping in-person, as well as an increase in wait times while checking out (71 percent) and less available essential items (52 percent).Shopkick, a leading shopping rewards app, surveyed nearly 8,500 consumers across the country to gain an understanding of how the Omicron variant is impacting their shopping habits and behavior. The online survey was conducted between January 6 – 13, 2022.

Key Insights Include:

  • Consumers and Vaccines: It has been a year since vaccinations rolled out across the United States and the majority of consumers (73 percent) have chosen to get fully vaccinated, with 47 percent having also been boosted. When asked why they decided to get vaccinated, the majority said to protect themselves (85 percent) and protect others around them (81 percent). Comparatively, 20 percent say they are not vaccinated and do not plan to be.
  • Omicron Fallout: Due to COVID-19 cases rising, the majority of consumers have noticed a shortage of retail workers while shopping in-person and an increase in wait times while checking out (73 percent and 71 percent respectively). Additionally, nearly half of consumers (47 percent) have experienced a shortage of at-home COVID test kits at their local pharmacy and grocery stores.
  • Still In-Store and Gathering Indoors: Despite the spike in Omicron cases, the majority of shoppers (59 percent) are taking the same number of trips to the store as they were a month ago and over half (53 percent) are still comfortable participating in public indoor activities.
  • Shopper Safety Precautions: Consumers are still taking trips to the store, but 73 percent are taking additional precautions while shopping due to the rise of Omicron. Precautions include masking up (90 percent), using disinfectants on hands and carts (79 percent), shopping at less busy times (69 percent), using self-checkout (63 percent), using touchless or contactless payments to avoid exchanging cash (31 percent), and frequenting cashier-less stores (7 percent).
  •  Retailer Safety Precautions: Consumers also want retailers to take steps to protect shoppers, as the majority (71 percent) expect in-store safety precautions such as disinfecting carts (84 percent), enforcing social distancing (65 percent), mandating masks (72 percent), limiting store capacity (40 percent), and putting a cap on the number of essential products each shopper can purchase (37 percent)
  • Gen Z Stocks Up: While the majority of consumers (66 percent) are not stocking up on essential items in preparation for another lockdown, Gen Zers are most likely to stock up (41 percent), compared to Baby boomers (35 percent), Millennials (35 percent), Gen X (34 percent), and the Silent generation (34 percent).

“As consumers continue to shop in-store, it is essential that retailers prioritize safety and implement the necessary precautions to keep shoppers’ minds at ease,” said Brittany Billings, EVP, strategic markets & marketing at Shopkick. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been continuously forcing the world to adapt and the Omicron variant has presented new challenges for consumers and retailers alike. These survey findings further reveal the need for retailers to adopt seamless, omnichannel shopping channels that can help address the pressing issues of supply shortages and a reduced retail workforce.”

About Shopkick, Inc.

Shopkick, a Trax company, is a leading shopping rewards app, bringing moments of joy to everyday shopping – both on- and off-line. For brands and retailers, Shopkick provides high consumer engagement along the entire path to purchase. The company’s unique pay-for-performance model has been proven to deliver high ROI while driving incremental traffic, product engagement, and sales. Some of its leading brand and retail partners include Kraft-Heinz, Barilla, GE, Kellogg’s, TJ Maxx, and Unilever, among others.Shopkick is available for free on iPhone from the App Store and for Android from Google Play. For more information, please visit

Retailers turn to hybrid cloud and AI to meet shifting consumer behaviors

As the pandemic has transformed the nature of work with more employees working from home than ever before it has also changed how consumers shop according to new study from IBM and the National Retail Federation.

The new global study of over 19,000 titled “Consumers want it all” revealed that hybrid shopping which mixes physical and digital channels in shopping journeys is on the rise as a result of shopping habits consumers adopted out of necessity that are now becoming routine.

Of those surveyed, almost three quarters (72%) said that they use retail stores as all or part of their primary purchase method. The reasons they gave for visiting a store include touching and feeling products before buying them (50%), picking and choosing their own products (47%) and getting products right away (43%).

However, 27 percent of respondents said that hybrid shopping, where part of their shopping journey is conducted online and the other half takes place in a retail store, is their method of choice. When it came to the generation most likely to be a ‘hybrid shopper’, Gen Z consumers lead the way when compared to other age groups.

VP of research and development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation, Mark Matthews explained in a press release how hybrid shopping represents a fundamental shift in consumer behavior, saying:

“While many surveyed consumers still place high value on the traditional in- store shopping experience, they also now expect the flexibility to build their own shopping journey – according to the behaviors prevalent to their age
range, available tools and the product category they are looking to purchase. This ‘hybrid’ approach is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior.”

Growing importance of sustainability

While adoption of hybrid cloud, AI and other technologies can allow retailers to create bespoke hybrid shopping experiences, IBM’s new study has also revealed that they’ll need to keep sustainability in mind to retain and grow their customer base.

Purpose-driven consumers that choose products and brands based on their own values like sustainability are now the largest segment of consumers surveyed (44%) according to the study. At the same time, 62 percent of respondents are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact which is up from 57 percent two years ago.

Half of respondents said they are now willing to pay an average premium of 70 percent for sustainability which is roughly double the premium from 2020. Still though, there is a gap between intention and action with only 31 percent of respondents saying that sustainable products made up most or all of their last purchase.

Global managing director of IBM Consumer Industries, Luq Niazi provided further insight on the study’s findings and the growing importance of sustainability to consumers, saying: “The survey shows over the last year, sustainability became increasingly important to consumers, though there’s still a gap between their intentions and actions due to lack of information in the buying process. Increasingly, it’s becoming essential that retail brands demonstrate sustainable choices and options in each step of the customer experience. At the same time, hybrid shopping has taken hold in most categories, particularly in home goods and apparel; and while stores continue to play the predominant role in grocery, hybrid shopping is growing in these categories too.” We’ve also rounded up the best e-commerce platforms and best shopping cart software.

This article was written by Anthony Spadafora from TechRadar and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to


Shoppers Returned To Stores For The Holidays

Shopper traffic to physical retail stores has strongly rebounded from 2020. Data from, a company which measures shopper visits across a wide range of physical stores including grocery, apparel, big box, department and specialty, indicate that shoppers returned for the 2021 holiday season.

Store visits were higher than 2020 and slightly ahead of 2019

Ethan Chernofsky, vice president marketing of, discussed how retailers were simultaneously concerned that supply chain issues would lead to a lack of products in stores, labor shortages would limit professionals to staff those same locations and COVID would impact consumer demand for in store visits. And while the effects of all of these issues were felt, overall retail holiday visits for 2021 still remained relatively close to, if not above, 2019 levels and far ahead of 2020 numbers. 

Chernofsky said, “The ability to drive success even in the face of a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges is a massive testament to the ongoing consumer demand for physical retail. While the sector is clearly evolving in a direction that demands greater omnichannel alignment, the continued centrality of the physical store received a major vote of confidence over the holiday retail season.” 

Retail category weekly visits (including all retail categories measured by, began trending up in June of 2021. With the exception of a few weeks, the upward trend compared to 2019 continued throughout the holiday season. data includes grocery, big box, specialty stores and department stores among other segments.  Total retail category visits remained higher than 2019 for the majority of the weeks starting around June 2021. 

Courtesy of 

Strong holiday sales and foot traffic were experienced across many retailers as compared to last year and were moderately improved from 2019. However, many retailers calculate the holiday selling period from November to December (the six weeks from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day). In 2021 many holiday sales and shopping visits took place in October. Best Buy, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods showed strong store visits early in season. Target, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods experienced significant increases in October store visits compared to 2019. 

Courtesy of 

November and December shopper visits down but sales are up

According to data from RetailNext, a company that measures store shopping visits to physical retail stores, sales for the holiday period measured from November 1 through December 25 were up 1.4% compared to 2019.  The amount shoppers were spending per visit was up 17.8% and the number of shoppers making purchases was higher by 2.4% compared to 2019. 

Courtesy of RetailNext 

While overall shopper visits were down 21.7%, the amount shoppers were spending per visit was up 17.8% and the number of shoppers making purchases was higher by 2.4%. Lauren Bitar, head of insights for RetailNext, said, “This was driven by a strong intent to buy from shoppers who were going into stores, sales being bolstered by curbside and other services, as well as that high average ticket price which was up to 19.3% compared to 2019 and 17.3% compared to 2020.” 

Black Friday shopping shifts to October but still remains a top shopping day data indicated that many retailers saw significant reductions in visits on Black Friday itself, partly caused by many of the Black Friday deals starting in October. However, this did not impact the overall success of the holiday season. 

Chernofsky noted that Target saw a 3.1% decline on Black Friday even though November visits were up 3.8%. Best Buy, a brand that traditionally sees huge traffic increases on Black Friday, saw visits down 23.9% on the day, even though November visits were down just 12.8% and October visits were up 10.2%. “The ability of many brands to drive success over a more extended period without the same onslaught of visits will likely drive a continued push for an extended season in years to come,” Chernofsky stated. 

Sensormatic Solutions, which monitors and measures shopper traffic to physical stores, released information for the six-week period from Sunday prior to Thanksgiving through January 1, 2022, showing shopper traffic down 19.5% compared to 2019. 

Super Saturday is still super

Compared to Super Saturday 2019 shopper traffic was down 26.3% this year, however, Sensormatic Solutions has ranked Super Saturday the second busiest shopping day. “For the last five years, Super Saturday is the second busiest shopping day in the U.S., falling only behind Black Friday,” said Peter McCall, senior manager of retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions. “There were only three Saturdays in December leading up to Christmas Day this year. As we expected, Super Saturday remains a big part of consumers’ holiday shopping plans to grab last-minute items with supply chain issues delaying the arrival of online orders in time for holiday celebrations.” 

According to Sensormatic Solutions, the biggest shopping days for physical retail are ranked as follows: 

  1. Friday, November 26 – Black Friday 
  2. Saturday, December 18 – Super Saturday 
  3. Thursday, December 23 – Thursday before Christmas 
  4. Saturday, December 11 – 2nd Saturday in December 
  5. Saturday, November 27 – Saturday after Thanksgiving 
  6. Saturday, December 4 – 1st Saturday in December 
  7. Sunday, December 19 – Sunday before Christmas 
  8. Wednesday, December 22 – Wednesday before Christmas 9. Monday, December 20 – Monday before Christmas 
  9. Tuesday, December 21 – Tuesday before Christmas 

As retailers tabulate the results of the 2021 holiday season, October was a key factor in the stronger performance over 2019. While store traffic was down in November and December across many retail segments, the higher purchasing power by consumers was able to lift sales above 2019 levels for physical retail stores.

This article was written by Shelley E. Kohan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to



The Top Digital Trends To Watch In 2022

The world is more digital now than ever before and that’s sure to last in 2022. 

Ninety percent of Americans say the internet has been essential to them during the pandemic. Indeed, basic everyday tasks such as buying groceries, connecting with family, and conducting business have been upended to rely on digital media. The pandemic ignited and expedited digital adoption, the aftermath of which will continue to percolate across all industries for years to come — and marketing is no exception. 

The biggest brand victories and failures won’t be won or lost on traditional commercials. They’ll happen on TikTok, Instagram, eSports, and smart speakers. The recommendations consumers trust most won’t come from celebrities on infomercials. They’ll be from nano-influencer on Stories, Reels, and Shorts. 

The savviest brands, employers, and users will navigate 2022 using a ‘digital first’ mentality with a focus on monitoring and activating these key trends:   

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality   

Virtual and augmented reality were growing trends before the pandemic but quarantine, remote work, and the lasting purgatory between pre-and-post pandemic life accelerated adoption. Need further convincing? The parent company of the world’s largest social network, Facebook, recently changed its name to Meta. That’s short for the metaverse, a virtual world where people socialize, work, and play.  Just this week, Meta launched Horizon Worlds, a free app for socializing in virtual reality, available to users ages 18 and up in the U.S. and Canada. 

The metaverse isn’t a new concept, nor is it distinct to Facebook. Back in March, Microsoft announced Mesh, a new mixed-reality platform that allows people in different places to collaborate and share holographic experiences across devices. 

Virtual and augmented reality trends extend beyond Big Tech. Consumer brands such as Sephora and Warby Parker adopted augmented reality years ago to make online shopping more experiential and efficient. But Facebook’s big bet on the metaverse gives it new weight and momentum. So, will 2022 be the year B2B marketers crack the meta nut? 

Voice Search 

Smart speakers saw record growth in 2020, with over 150 million units sold globally. Voice search is poised to continue to grow in the coming years. Why? The biggest reasons are intuitive: it’s easy and hands-free. 71 percent of consumers favor voice-searching to type-searching. Voice shopping is projected to reach $40 billion in 2022 and by 2024, there are projected to be 8.4 billion voice devices across the globe. 

There are admittedly technological limitations with voice search, which relies on Natural Language Processing but even so, Google’s speech recognition has a 95% accuracy rate for English searches. Google Voice Search also offers massive global scale, supporting more than 100 languages. 

Consumer brands, such as Domino’s, have been active in this space for some time. Back in 2016, Domino’s launched its skill on Amazon Echo, which enables users to order delivery via Echo. 

The next phase of winning in voice search will transcend beyond basic speaker skills and into all digital content. In 2022, companies and brands who optimize their websites and content for voice search will drive more traffic to their site and increase their SEO ranking. 


By the end of 2021, the global eSports audience is projected to reach 474 million users, with revenues of nearly $1.1 billion. eSports are on the rise but still in their nascent stage, which means a massive opportunity for those who get it right.   

Verizon is well-known for being cutting edge in their digital marketing – and eSports is no exception. In 2020, Verizon became an official partner of League of Legends regional league and earlier this year, Verizon and video game developer Riot Games expanded this partnership with Verizon becoming a partner across League of Legend’s three annual global events.   

With evolving pandemic-related regulations on in-person sporting events and large venues, 2022 could be the year eSports adoption and sponsorships go mainstream. 

Digital Payment 

The more time users spend on digital, the more money they spend on digital. Person-to-person payments had promising growth pre-pandemic and COVID-19 ignited and expedited this trajectory. 

In 2020, PayPal volume payment growth was up a record 31% and that’s not slowing any time soon. PayPal projects a similar increase, of about 30%, in 2021. And it’s not just PayPal, payments and social media continue to converge through the rise of other platforms such as Venmo and Zelle. In Q3 2021, Zelle processed $127 billion on 466 million transactions.   

Major corporations, small businesses, and everyday users are relying more on digital payments for everything from buying a car to reimbursing a friend for lunch. 


The rise of TikTok during the pandemic was widely reported. In Q1 2020, TIkTok received 315 million downloads – that’s more quarterly downloads than any app in history but whether TikTok maintains dominance on the micro-video market remains to be seen. Afterall, Instagram usurped Snapchat in Stories – so will the platform eclipse TikTok in Reels? Time will tell but early metrics are promising. 87% of Gen-Z TikTok users agree that Reels is very similar to TikTok. Reels also receive 22% more engagement than regular video content. 

Instagram Reels isn’t the only micro-video format poised for growth in 2022. Take YouTube Shorts, a short-form video experience launched by Google in 2020, for example. The biggest case for YouTube Shorts is their institutional userbase: every month, 2 billion viewers visit YouTube.  

Brands who capitalize on this micro-video trend – and seemingly algorithmically favored format — will win in 2022. 

Nano-Influencer Marketing 

By the end of 2021, influencer marketing is projected to reach $13.8 billion but not all influencers influence equally. Studies show that nano-influencers, those with fewer than 5,000 followers drive the highest engagement rate, followed next by micro-influencers, users with 5,000-20,000 followers. In fact, users with over 1 million followers drive the lowest engagement rate. That’s why 77% of marketers would rather work with micro-influencers than celebrities. 

Another perk of nano and micro-influencers is their smaller following typically makes them more affordable. Micro-influencers can activate more targeted, niche audiences and are often considered more authentic and trustworthy by their followers. 

To-date, influencer marketing has been most effective for brands targeting Gen-Z but as Gen-Z ages and Millennials, Gen-X, and Boomers all spend more time online, there could be a white space for brands to sway more demographics via influencer marketing. 

Privacy Regulation 

So, what won’t grow in 2022? Third-party cookies usage. 

This year, Google announced Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies by 2023. Apple launched a pop-up on iPhones that asks users for permission to be tracked by apps and Facebook announced its engineers are working on a workaround to serve relevant ads to users without leveraging personal data. 

As Big Tech rolls out these new privacy restrictions, more platforms and regulation are expected to follow suit and the implications could pose serious limitations for advertisers.   

As platforms, formats, regulations, and the pandemic continue to evolve, adaptability will remain the greatest asset for brands, employers, and users looking to build an effective and resilient digital strategy in 2022.

This article was written by Katy Finneran from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to