Black Friday's shop-ocalypse has arrived but what's the long term benefit for brands?
Black Friday's shop-ocalypse has arrived but what's the long term benefit for brands?
A view from Gianfranco Cuzziol

Black Friday's shop-ocalypse has arrived but what's the long term benefit for brands?

Gianfranco Cuzziol, head of CRM at digital agency Zone, says brands must look beyond short term sales to drive long term value with customers this...

The shop-ocalypse has arrived, and as the twin horsemen of Black Friday and Cyber Monday loomed on the horizon, supermarket security guards and server-maintenance technicians alike were crossing themselves in fear.

And while retailers -  both of the bricks and mortar and e-commerce variety – are hopefully enjoying the benefits of the annual pre-Christmas shot in the arm (I say most as, of course, we know that Asda are giving this year a miss), a question that often gets forgotten by their marketers is: ‘What do we do all these new customers?’.

Wearing my CRM hat, all too often I see too little attempt to look beyond the sort of ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em low’ mentality that will prevail this weekend in terms of follow-up responses to first-time interactors. 

By delivering genuinely meaningful rewards gamification can create an ongoing relationship that goes beyond the occasional interaction generated by specified discounting 

It’ll certainly be interesting to see if the increased embracing of a gamification approach to CRM – i.e the application of elements traditionally associated with gaming  ­– has an effect, and whether the marketing departments of any major retailers adopt that kind of approach specifically to post-Black Friday purchasers.

Even the most basic CRM model knows three things about customers post-purchase: who they are, what they bought and when they bought it. And this week the ‘when’ is crucial, because as it’s Black Friday marketers know they like a deal.

That’s the kind of genuine, actionable intelligence that retailers need to exploit as they attempt to drive more value than occasional purchases of heavily discounted goods. It’s here where the gamification aspect of a sophisticated CRM approach kicks in.

Whereas the old temptation for marketers was to see these customers merely as prime fodder for end-of-line discounting sales and the like, a smart CRM approach will have identified the desired behaviours, and seek to encourage and reward them on an ongoing basis – as well as ensuring there is more than one route to success (and reward) for the customer.

Marks & Spencer and Asos

By delivering genuinely meaningful rewards (such as free priority delivery or early access to new products) and increasing their scale (in line with greater, yet still attainable challenges), gamification can create an ongoing relationship that goes beyond the occasional interaction generated by specified discounting or the now increasingly dated accumulation of points approach.

Look at what Marks & Spencer has done with the recent launch of its Sparks loyalty scheme, which now has gamification at the heart of its structure. The retailer has identified frequency of spend, amount spent, advocacy (hopefully) via reviews and promotion of CSR credentials – via ‘Shwopping’ – as the behaviours it wants to influence.

Points in the form of ‘Sparks’ are given based on these behaviours and, by reaching key thresholds, the customer is rewarded with access to special events and priority notifications of sales etc. The scheme goes further by promising to tailor rewards based on a member’s interests.

It’s a similar story with ASOS, but because of the very nature of the brands audience the social aspect of ASOS rewards will do the bulk of the lifting to encourage engagement with the brand.

Currently when users post an image of themselves on social channels using certain hashtags the content is used on the ASOS website.

Moving forward, those signed up to the loyalty scheme will be awarded points for posting on social channels and interacting with content thus recognising, promoting and rewarding an natural existing behaviour. 

In this age of big data, there’s no excuse not to use this kind of approach: one that both understands a customer’s existing behaviour and attempts to alter it through ongoing interaction.

It’s certainly a far better way of winning a customer’s loyalty than straight discounting… after-all, a digitally empowered customer is a notoriously fickle one.