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.

Shopkick Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts until October 15. Here at Shopkick, we are proud to celebrate our employees and partners across diverse backgrounds and foster an inclusive culture both internally and within our app for our Shopkick Community. We are invested in learning about different cultures, as this is what makes each of us unique. We are thrilled to share some stories from our team members, Shopkick community, and partners on their favorite Hispanic traditions, foods, brands, and more!

 

Question: What is your favorite Hispanic food or dish that you made with your family growing up?

Sam Alvarez (Marketing Associate): My favorite Cuban dish is arroz con bistec (rice with steak). Cuban steak is very thin and marinated with garlic and topped with onions. My Abuelo was a chef from Cuba so having any of his dishes was delicious and authentic!

Stella Araya-Weil (Senior Account Director): Adobo! Adobo is actually the national dish of the Philippines with Spanish roots coming from the word adobar, meaning marinade, sauce or seasoning. The dish is either pork or chicken (or both!) and it is marinated in soy sauce and vinegar. The history of the dish goes back to Spain and Portugal, as the Spaniards occupied the PI Islands for 300 years.

Kimberly Ruiz Beck (Chairman, Ruiz Foods): My Grandmother Rosie was an amazing cook and as kids, we loved any time we knew we were going to her house, especially when she was preparing a meal.   She could tell what a dish needed just by taking a small taste. “Add a pinch of cumin,” she would say.  And she’d be right. It was fun to be side-by-side with her in the kitchen, learning as much as I could.

Her enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos … and so much more … were such family and friend favorites that her recipes became the flavor profiles for our El Monterey frozen Mexican food line. Grandma Rosie believed in quality and great taste, a commitment my father, Fred, and his father, Louis, embraced when they formed Ruiz Foods. I am proud to say it is a commitment we have also made as we continue the tradition of offering our consumer a wide variety of Mexican food products.

Araceli Castaneda (Senior Marketing Associate): Making tamales with my family growing up will forever be one of my favorite foods. While these can be exhausting to make, especially when cooking for the whole family, I’ve always enjoyed helping my mom and aunts in the kitchen. Plus, I get to learn the recipe that I can continue to pass on!

Eric Batista (Shopkick Community Member): Hands down picadillo. It’s such a simple meal, but with a ton of flavor. This was the go-to for big family get-togethers growing up and brings back such great memories.

 

Question: What is your favorite Hispanic tradition or activities?

Sam: Making cascarones. These are similar to Easter eggs, but we decorate the outside of the eggs and fill them with confetti. It is a tradition to “crack” the confetti eggs on each other’s heads during Easter egg hunts.

Stella: Celebrating Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead – a Mexican custom after Halloween that is celebrated November 1-2. Ornate costumes with makeup are worn, and families gather and decorate gravesites to commemorate loved ones who have passed on. It is a day of festivities and remembrance and honoring those who have passed. Every few years we try to celebrate the Holiday in Mexico as a family – coincidentally my daughter was born on November 1 so there are so many reasons to celebrate.

Kimberly: There’s nothing better than family gatherings. When I was young, it was always my favorite time to get together with my siblings and the rest of the family.

Now that we are all grown with families of our own, our gatherings may not be as frequent, but when we get together it can seem what I like to call ‘controlled chaos’. With four generations, family gatherings can be quite large but when my children’s grandmother says it’s time to eat, the chaos magically quiets and everyone sits down in anticipation of her chile verde, enchiladas, or mole.

It’s the getting together over great food, sharing, laughing, and catching up on what everyone is doing that is the most enjoyable and memorable.

Araceli: My favorite tradition continues to be celebrating Noche Buena aka Christmas Eve with my family. We all gather to enjoy delicious foods, play games, dance (or sing karaoke) and open our gifts at midnight.

Eric: If we’re talking holidays, definitely New Year’s, my family roasts’ a whole pig – a common tradition in Cuba – and we all gather for a full day of celebrating, eating, and a few too many cocktails (if there is such a thing ). Though the majority of my family now lives in the US, we love to keep a lot of our Cuban Heritage traditions going, especially those that involve family and food.

 

Question: Is there anything you would want others to know about Hispanic Heritage Month?

Sam: A lot of people are confused about why Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15 and ends on October 15! It’s because many countries celebrate Independence Day on September 15 – 16 and Mexico celebrates Race Day on October 12!

Stella: I am originally from the Philippines, which culturally is a combination of Asian + Hispanic influences. I love and support Hispanic Heritage month as an ally and homage to my Spanish background… my maiden name is Araya and my mother’s maiden name is Espinosa – both my mother and father’s sides have Spanish ancestors.

Kimberly: For me, Hispanic Heritage month is a reminder of what my Grandparents experienced when they were growing up. They were born in Mexico, emigrated to America, and believed if they worked hard and remain dedicated, they could see their American Dream come true. In 1964, my dad and grandfather did just that when they co-founded Ruiz Foods. Over 50 years later, we employ over 4,000 Team Members in five manufacturing facilities in the United States. We remain committed to provide our consumer with great tasting food and I am proud to say our El Monterey frozen Mexican food is #1 in the marketplace.

Araceli: Hispanic Heritage Month gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate the importance of Hispanic and Latinx cultural and leadership contributions to communities throughout the United States.

Eric: Hispanic Heritage Month is such an amazing time to share with others about Hispanic culture and history. I love the teaching aspect of the month – if you are ever unsure why we celebrate, just ask, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for me, my family and friends, love using Hispanic Heritage Month as a moment to teach others and spread the knowledge.

 

Question: What is your dream Hispanic brand to be featured in-app?

Sam: Jumex! They have lots of juices that I drank growing up as a kid! My favorite is Mango.

Stella: It would be a dream to have Hispanic destinations/countries/states with high Hispanic population featured in the app. As far as brands are concerned, I think our shoppers would also love cerveza, chips and salsa brands!

Araceli: My dream Hispanic brand to be featured in-app would have to be Jarritos. The fruit-flavored sodas from Mexico pair great with any dish, especially tacos!

Eric: Café Bustelo! It’s our go-to k-cup brand of coffee. My mom might think I’m crazy for choosing Café Bustelo in the morning over traditional Cuban Coffee, but it packs a punch. Bring them in the app, please.

 

We are so proud to have a diverse group of employees, users, and partners here at Shopkick. We celebrate all cultures and differences, and we are thrilled to be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! The Shopkick app has been a great place to showcase and celebrate Latinx brands and foods like Siete Foods, El Monterey, Tyson tortillas, Ulta Beauty’s Latin-founded brands, Walmart’s Hispanic-focused books, and many more. No matter your tradition or heritage, at Shopkick, we celebrate your authentic background and look forward to many more celebrations.

 

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 legal@industrydive.com.

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 legal@industrydive.com.

 

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 https://store.mintel.com/report/the-future-of-pasta-rice-noodles-market-research-report 

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, Kohls.com, 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 https://www.specialtyfood.com/shows-events/summer-fancy-food-show/attend/reasons-attend/

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 legal@industrydive.com.

Cultivating Loyalty Is More Challenging Than Ever: Here’s What Customers Want And Brands Should Know, According To The Latest Data

Coke or Pepsi? Visa or Mastercard? Uber or Lyft? Apple or Android? Think about the brands you are loyal to. Does that allegiance extend to the exclusion of ever buying or using rival brands? Why or why not? What is it about commodity or luxury products and services that keep you faithful – and what would tempt you to switch?

Companies are working hard to understand this and it’s not easy. Both Gen-Z and Boomers have significant purchasing power (in 2020, consumers 65+ upped their online shopping by 53%), yet these generations sit on opposite sides of the preference and behavior spectrum (and individuals in those cohorts vary just as wildly). Legacy brands have armies of nimble D2C challengers nipping at their heels. The rapid shift to a new and permanent 1:1 economy is dizzying.

How do brands drive and maintain customer loyalty in the midst of ever-changing, oftentimes unpredictable market forces and shifting consumer demographics? To better understand what’s driving loyalty today and learn more about the ways in which consumers and brands are reacting to change, I spoke with John Hendricks, founder and CEO of ERGO.

John thinks a lot about the loyalty topic as some of the world’s largest brands such as American Express, Delta, Blackrock and Ameriprise have used his company to build long-term relationships and loyalty with consumers through the power of modern email newsletters. Together, we examined some of the latest data from Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Gary Drenik: Traditionally, we think about value (price relative to quality) as the main driver of loyalty. But are dollars and cents the only way for brands to compete and build customer loyalty?

John Hendricks: Brand loyalty is completely psychological, equal parts rational and emotional. On the rational side, there’s no getting past the fact that American consumers are definitely feeling the pressure of inflation. According to data from Prosper Insights and Analytics, a large percentage of consumers have noticed price increases across multiple categories from gas and groceries to pet supplies and prescription drugs.

Add to inflation the recent holiday gift-giving season, and it’s no surprise that consumers may currently be choosing cost savings over brand loyalty. Nearly one third (27%) of consumers across generations, Gen-Z, Millennials and Gen-X said they were buying more store brand/generic items due to price increases. 25% of Adults said they were doing more comparative shopping online.

Prosper – Doing As A Result Of Price Increases
Prosper Insights & Analytics

More than half of consumers across every generation except Millennials (48%) said that choosing familiar brands when buying clothes was not important.

Prosper – Familiar Labels Are Important
Prosper Insights & Analytics

On the emotional side it’s now more important than ever to make a strong impact with a solid customer experience. Household name brands (those that normally engender loyalty) will need to deliver more than discounts, rewards, and coupons. Brands can offer experiential rewards such as exclusive or early access to events or products that go beyond transactions and help drive deeper relationships and a sense of community with other customers.

Prices go up and down in tandem with economic cycles, but brands that find creative ways to offer incentives beyond fleeting discounts or irrelevant rewards will find it easier to maintain customer loyalty during tougher times or earn regular business back when wallets loosen up again.

Drenik: So, it sounds like beyond price, customer experience is a critical factor to winning and maintaining customer loyalty?

Hendricks: Absolutely. All consumers – even those in older generations – expect digital- first experiences in what’s become a highly on-demand culture. Brands that deliver speed and seamless omnichannel experiences consistently will have a long-term advantage when it comes to customer loyalty. Brands that get personalization right will also have a leg up.

However, good CX today goes beyond just selling and focusing only on triggered marketing messages. Consumers crave tangible value beyond the sale and it’s important for brands to predict customer needs and delight them with information they didn’t already know.

Transactional messages drive sales, which are no doubt important. Brands are in business to make money. However, experiences focused on relationship building and rooted in brand values will increase total CLTV (customer lifetime value), which is important for brands especially in high churn industries like technology, CPG, and financial services.

Drenik: Let’s shift gears and address the point of brand values. Many brands have stepped up in recent years to demonstrate that they share the same social values as their customers. Should we expect this trend to continue in 2022?

Hendricks: Corporate social responsibility matters. This has come into stark relief over the past two years with various social movements that have sparked conversations around sustainability, equity, and inclusion. Prosper Insights & Analytics found that a quarter of Gen-Z and Millennials will increase spending with a brand that takes a strong stand on a social issue they support.

The numbers are even more significant when it comes to environmental issues, with nearly 30% of Adults 18+ reporting that they’ll spend more with brands that are environmentally responsible.

These current numbers aren’t as high as other industry studies and again may reflect the tight financial times many consumers are in. However, these stats underscore that even during tough times, brands that maintain, demonstrate, and communicate their values can still garner a larger share of wallet and long-term loyalty. Authenticity is also key. Consumers are very good at sniffing out fake attempts to embrace Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by brands and that almost always backfires.

Drenik: Any final thoughts or tips about cultivating loyalty in 2022 and beyond?

Hendricks: I can’t help but come back to the importance of getting personalization right as a driver of loyalty moving forward. Us folks in the marketing technology world know how much of a buzzword it’s become, but there’s such a strong opportunity to rethink what personalization means and how to approach it in a way that provides the best customer experiences while respecting privacy. Much of this will be driven by Artificial Intelligence and we are just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these loyalty-driving experiences can and will look like.

Drenik: Thanks for your time and expertise, John. It will be interesting to see how things continue to unfold in the coming year.

This article was written by Gary Drenik from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.