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February 24, 2009
Madison Avenue Meets Fifth Avenue
 
I have two passions in life – one is advertising (specifically media) and the other is clothing. As an ad person, I’d love to say marketing doesn’t affect me much. The problem is the shopaholic in me loves a sale.
 
And if you go into my closet, you will know who I’m loyal to… Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein and, oh, so many more.
 
One may ask what draws me into the stores, and in most cases, I can say an eblast. Why an eblast verses the beautiful glossy magazine ads or TV ads? Because I am not only a shopaholic but also a bargain hunter.
 
Eblasts are great opportunities for brands to send a value message to those consumers who are already loyalists (opted in) and therefore more likely to react.
 
In addition to providing this basic message, a skilled advertiser will keep a detailed database of its shoppers’ habits.
 
Why? Well, if you send the right messages to the right customers, the likelihood that they will take action increases accordingly.
 
Most shoppers compartmentalize – meaning that they shop at specific stores for specific reasons. And if you are continually sending them the wrong message, they tend to tune you out.
 
A perfect example of this is Victoria’s Secret Semi Annual Sale eblasts. Yes, I shop during that period, but I don’t need to be reminded every day, nor do I need to be offered free shipping with an order of $150 or more. Who buys that much underwear at once, especially when it’s on clearance?
 
I only shop VS in-store. So this offer doesn’t interest me and pounding me over the head with it isn’t going to make me react.
 
This is why tracking customer behavior is important. The more a business knows about its consumers and their shopping habits, the easier it is to reward and encourage future brand engagement. 
 
So keeping in mind the above example, an offer that would encourage me to react (in this context) would be for Victoria’s Secret to offer me an in-store gift with the purchase of $75 or more (see above for reason) or just a simple discount off an in-store purchase.
 
I have yet to see a retailer embrace this sort of relationship database. I’m not saying there are none, but I don’t currently interact with one.

Therefore, my goal for those working in retail marketing is to take time in 2009 to cultivate meaningful relationships with your consumers based on their habits. Work with your team (whether internal or an agency) and focus on how to provide a more relevant message to brand loyalists.
 
Keep an open mind about trial and error. It’s important to test different offers against your different audiences. 
 
For example, if one group is passionate about your pants, send one offer regarding a discount off of a multiple pants purchase and another cross-promoting by offering 50% off a top with the purchase of a pair of pants. By testing and tracking the offers with redemption, you can adjust for those that prove to be successful.
 
Here’s to a successful retail experience in 2009 for both Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

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Stephanie serves as Pavone's first digital media manager. The position was created in response to clients’ growing need for online marketing strategies, including search engine marketing and optimization, social networks, blogs, podcasts and other web-based communications channels. Stephanie integrates these outlets into clients’ marketing plans while also overseeing the day-to-day work flow of the agency’s web design and interactive department.
 
She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from York College of Pennsylvania.
shemmann@pavone.net

http://www.pavone.net
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