All businesses experience favorable economic times when profits are gained without stress or extra effort; however, there are also times of adverse economic condition either in a particular sector or widespread and most businesses are tempted with the choice to retreat. Business research has currently unfolded various trends that are geared towards cushioning businesses during tough times profit optimization during favorable times.
The stiffening of competition in all sectors of the economy has driven most companies to opt for retail marketing as a way of getting closer to the consumer. The customer has principally become the target of retailers with each business striving to build a large and loyal customer base. However, consumer loyalty has proven to be an elusive aspect for most businesses because it is volatile and unpredictable. Most businesses wake up to a surprising defection of customers to a competitor and are left wondering what went wrong. The concepts for keeping customers loyal are however simple and most businesses rush to implement complex methodologies forgetting the basic concepts. (Daniels 2002).
According to Burch (2005) customers require recognition and respect, they expect a business to offer a competitive shopping environment that is safe and accessible and they require the prices to be pocket friendly. Burch continues to emphasize that a combination of these factors; tailored to suit a particular consumer base will most definitely offer good results for any business. This paper will look at the use of consumer information for future marketing purposes. Consumer information is very invaluable information to any keen business because it can be used to determine the most appropriate marketing strategy that will reach the highest percentage of consumers. Furthermore, it also saves business revenue via the use of the cheapest form of advertisement.
A marketing database is an important asset to any business because it contains information on the customers and proper analysis of this information can provide useful data that can be used for future marketing plans. (Cooper 2009). The information may include purchasing trends and habits of the consumers. However the most important part of developing an efficient marketing database is the collection of information from consumers and it is important to know the type of information that when collected, broken down, and analyzed can provide relevant marketing information.
As outlined by Samuel (2007) most small and large retailing businesses currently boast a customer database. In the collection of customer information, Some retailers require that customers who want to subscribe to their mailing list provide the following information: First name, Last name, Postal address, Email address, Telephone, Date of Birth, and additional information on customer’s special interest about the method of contact; either Email or Post. Additional consumer information that can be added is how the customers found out about the particular retail outlet. This information can be useful by retailers when looking for the most effective way to reach a large number of consumers within a short time in a cost-effective way.
For instance, if most customers knew about a particular retail outlet through their friends and colleagues, the retailer can make brochures or fliers and hand them over to customers whenever they visit. Retailers can also organize promotion campaigns to ensure that customers are more aware of the goods and services offered by the company so that they can effectively transfer the information to other people.
The other customer information that can be useful during marketing is the number of times a particular customer visits a retail outlet per month, the day of the week of the visits, and the hour of visits. This information can be useful especially when conducting promotion campaigns, this is because it can help in determining the most effective time frame when a large number of customers are present to organize the campaigns.
According to Hopkins (2009), many retailers remain unknown to customers not because the goods and services they offer are substandard but because consumers are not aware of the products and other important information such as pricing. The problem, therefore, is not with the business but in the marketing strategies employed. Some retailers currently establish clubs as a way of making their customers more loyal. A club can be an important way to improve sales by increasing membership in the club.
Clubs are a way of bringing people who share the same interest and in this case the common interest. Furthermore, clubs should have the capacity to benefit people as a group and individual members of the club. To increase the number of members of the club retailers must attach the membership to some form of prestige. Prestige will make more people join the club not only for the benefits that come along but because of the social stature associated with the club. Furthermore, people join clubs to network and most people will join the club because of the kind of people they will expect to meet there as a way of business or professional networking.
One way of attaching prestige to the club is by charging a considerable fee for the club membership and then providing the club members with special cards as a way of recognition. Most retailers are advised to employ methodologies geared towards the creation of more personalized interaction with the customer. The development of a personalized relationship with the customer is greatly dependent on the ability of a retailer to establish talented customer care at departments of the business. In this perspective, most retailers are targeting the development of talent as a way of ensuring their competitiveness in the market.
In addition, it is also imperative that a business determines the most effective way to use talent as a way of ensuring consumer satisfaction. Consumer-oriented marketing strategies require much customization to meet the needs of consumers.
Direct Marketing Methods
Houghton (2001) points out that direct marketing methods require that a retailer gets in touch with the shopper on a more personal level. Companies like AGI that are established in the direct marketing business offer retailers a variety of direct marketing options. Contrary to past marketing strategies that used were geared towards reaching many consumers, the current trend is to approach consumers more personally and directly. A customer database of 3000 or more people can provide valuable information concerning issues such as customer preferences and customer purchasing trends including important aspects such as customer demographics.
The information can be used as a starting point to steer direct marketing and make it successful. For instance, the reason why some brands of wine are bought more than others could be because the least bought wines are not known to consumers. As explained by Kissinger (1996) a retail winery can take the initiative of contacting customers through the provided e-mail addresses and postal addresses to tell customers more about the least bought brands of wine and their unique characteristics this will have the effect of increasing the overall sales.
The second way of direct marketing that can be used to increase sales is where the company can use recorded sales messages which can then be sent to customers informing them about products and upcoming events that the company has organized and this may help in increasing sales because more people can be reached through telemarketing. However, MacDonald (2006) explains that telemarketing, especially over the phone is always viewed by consumers as a nuisance and if used uncontrollably can have negative effects. It is always wise to seek the services of a telemarketing company which is more experienced in the field to avoid the negative effects.
Just as mentioned previously telemarketing is a very sensitive form of direct sales and it, therefore, requires that it is carried out by a professional company. Telemarketing companies first contact the list of customers targeted by a particular company and request them if they can have some time to interact with the company’s salespeople, this will prevent the company from approaching customers who do not like being disturbed over the phone. (Miller 2007).
The Telemarketing Company will then follow up on the request and makes sure that as many customers attend the interactive sessions. Telemarketing companies also provide valuable information concerning the right questions and conducting effective marketing research. The initiative of conducting telemarketing, therefore, requires a professional company and therefore retailers are advised to seek the services of a telemarketing company instead of conducting it internally. (Mark 2007)
Pursuing Response Lists
Pursuing rented lists or purchasing a list from business to business sounds like a very good idea for utilizing an already available list for marketing instead of developing one’s list. It is however important to buy a particular list because in this way the business will have the chance of seeing the actual mail addresses and even reusing the list for future promotions. The only disadvantage of pursuing lists is that a company might be labeled as a spam company. (Hang 1994).
Posting Information to Customers
Posting information to customers is a very interactive sales tool because it gives the customers a sense of belonging and acceptance and therefore the customer will be convinced to buy more products. Although the posting of information is rather expensive, the information it carries is much and a business can use the method to relay to the customers a lot of information in a single posting.
According to Cooper (2009 Pg 187) Competition in the retailing sector has become tougher therefore it requires that retailers command a significant advantage over competitors. Various retailing outlets are already engaging in cutthroat competition with most of them using direct marketing as the major strategy. Stores are even using online marketing using customers’ details to lure customers to their stores. Companies in the online marketing business are offering favorable discounts luring consumers into purchasing goods such as jewelry and fashionable clothes. A number of retailers that have found themselves bankrupt due toSeveralility to efficiently use consumer details in direct marketing include stores such as Linens ‘n Things and Sharper Image, perhaps even more retail outlets will follow.
Most malls and shopping centers are currently empty in the United States with few investors willing to engage in the retailing business. (Xenia 2001). The most surprising thing is that most retailers have failed terribly in their direct marketing campaigns with direct marketing sales dropping to $1.74 trillion in 2009 as compared to $1.95 trillion in the previous year. However, with the experiences learned it is thought that more and more retailers may be willing to take the risk once more, and perhaps direct marketing will be rejuvenated once more. Technology has also made direct marketing much easier due to the widespread internet connections across America and most businesses using the internet as their major form of direct marketing. Most consumers currently prefer to purchase commodities online.
According to White (2002) seasoned online retailers like Amazon continuously registering increasing profits. For instance, the revenues for 2008 were $14.8 billion, and the next year they shot to $19.1 billion. Internet marketing has been the major cause of success for companies such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot. (White 2002) Developments in the information technology sector have also ensured that internet connection is extremely fast. The lives of most hard-working Americans has very little free time to even accommodate making trips to the mall. However, with online shopping, most Americans can take the time out to shop online at work using their desktops and laptops.
Furthermore purchasing some private goods that may otherwise be embarrassing for some customers has also been made much easier. Online marketing has revolutionized direct marketing with most retailers taking advantage. According to Kumis (2005), direct marketing requires substantial knowledge of consumer information so that it is not done haphazardly but is customized regarding customer preferences.
Compounding the tough economic times is the fact that the retail business is characterized by stiff competition with retailers fighting for the pocket of customers. Trends in the retail business are currently directed towards establishing a personal relationship with consumers. (Rader 2004). There has been the realization that consumer loyalty is very elusive and can be lost without a warning. To avoid this occurrence retailers have devised ways to get n touch with the consumer at a more personal level. Some retailers have even established clubs just to ensure that customers become patrons.
Some retail shops issue customers with shopping cards for loyal customers that offer discounts to these customers or accumulate points that can later be used to shop. The concepts for keeping customers loyal are however simple and most businesses rush to implement complex methodologies forgetting the basic concepts. Customers require recognition and respect, they expect a business to offer a competitive shopping environment that is safe and accessible and they require the prices to be pocket friendly. A combination of these factors customers and tailored to suit a particular consumer base will most definitely offer good results for any business.
This paper will look at the use of consumer information for future marketing purposes. Consumer information is very invaluable information to any keen business because it can be used to determine the most appropriate marketing strategy that will reach the highest percentage of consumers. Furthermore, it also saves business revenue via the use of the cheapest form of advertisement. (Caroline 2003)
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