"You're All the Same Company, Right?"

In a world where consumers increasingly demand continuity in customer service, it’s surprising to see retailers still manage their brands as separate customer repositories. We’re talking about those retailers that have multiple chains, brands, or online sites. Customers expect the retailers they engage with to know what they bought, when, what brands they like, and to recommend new products. Customers expect to be rewarded the same whether they are shopping online, in the store, or across stores in the same family of companies. Retailer websites sometimes indicate sister brands, so why then, as a consumer, am I treated differently across them?

The answer is simple. The data often resides in a separate silo for each brand, often with separate agencies, so there is no cross-brand knowledge sharing or communication. There is no Connected CRM. There is no ability to know how Brand A is talking to me vs. Brand B. You don’t know that I’m opted into multiple brands and have purchased 'x' amount across those brands. You don’t know that for Brand A, I go to the store, but for Brand B, I shop online. Why? Shouldn’t you be tracking my purchases? My behavior?  The ads I’m seeing? What’s driving my actions?

As a customer, I don’t care about the difficulties preventing this level of insight — I want to see results. If I’m a platinum member at one retailer, I should get my same benefits at their sister company, right? If I have a good experience at Brand A, I expect the same from Brand B. In reality, it’s not so simple.

So how do we change it? For starters, there needs to be a corporate vision driving a customer-centric marketing approach and communication for the desired outcome. Ask yourself ...

  • Do you have top-down alignment to help rally the retailer’s multiple brand organizations? Without this vision, it will be difficult to get cooperation from the multiple business units.
  • What common KPIs can be applied across brands? Empower a team to drive commonality for key reporting and performance indicators to have consistency across brands.
  • How can I standardize the treatment and collection of customer data? Through customer data integration efforts, you can identify common customers across brands while still maintaining their unique brand preferences and source of the customer.
  • How do I manage my communications across brands so I don’t overload my customer’s inbox? With the data consolidated, you now know which customers are opted in across brands, and develop mechanisms to identify opportunities for brand co-promotion. You can build out a communication cadence strategy across your brands, especially for multi-brand engaging customers.
  • How do I know who my most valuable customers are across ALL my brands? With access to combined order and behavior data, it’s easier to determine the best customer profile and target prospects having that profile.
  • Are your brands sharing data assets? You may find that the agency for Brand A is purchasing third-party data for enriched customer profiles, but wait ... so is Brand B. With a consolidated solution, you can now leverage those data assets across brands and be more fiscally responsible in your third-party data procurement.

Second, we need to determine what data assets are available. What brands have loyalty programs? Is it worth integrating the programs? How disparate are the ESPs, point of sale, and e-commerce systems across the retailer brands? How are call centers managed? What online activity is being tracked?

Third, what phasing strategy should be leveraged to ensure deployment success and timely releases across brands? Is it a brand-based strategy or type of communication-based strategy? Which aligns best to your vision and timeline?

Lastly, how do my brands leverage the information once it’s consolidated? If you didn't plan for this approach and do have siloed customer databases, there is still hope with the appropriate comprehensive infrastructure — you can get to a multi-branded approach while still holding true to the value a single customer brings.

In the end, I want to go to my favorite store and have them know how valuable of a customer I am. When they co-promote another sister brand in an email to me, I want that brand to know I’m a platinum customer and provide relevant offers. As a customer, I do my research, so I know you. Whether you’re one brand or many ... know me.

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