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HomeNewsWhy today’s brand personalization extends beyond just online communications

Why today’s brand personalization extends beyond just online communications

Princess Cruises

In communicating with consumers, Princess Cruises doesn’t treat them as one homogeneous whole. It has segmented like-audiences into groups such as “discerning recharger,” “learning family,” and “adventurous explorer,” based on various data sources.

Shelley Wise, VP of marketing in North America for the premium cruise line, explains that customer segmentation is the first step toward creating brand interactions and experiences customized to the individual.

“Segmentation is how you start scaling up on personalization, but what you ultimately want to work toward is making those segments smaller and smaller until you get to that truly one-to-one communication.,” she says. “That is the ultimate goal.”

With so much data available to marketers plus advances in technology, some brands are getting closer to it. In addition to segmenting based on customer demographics, they are also adding into the equation their geographic location, historical transaction data, and online behavior. Layered onto that to help determine messaging can be external factors such as competitive activity and trending sales.

Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks are high-profile examples of data-driven companies taking personalized marketing to the next level, but they aren’t the only ones.

Leveraging data to target effectively

In January, Princess launched one of its most targeted and customized multimedia campaigns. Led by PR, it also ended up being one of the brand’s most effective promotions.

Watching forecasts that had the northeast U.S. about to drop into a deep freeze, the PR group reached out to local media in key cities in the region with a feel-good story amid the chill: a special offer – which they branded Flee the Freeze –  for a Caribbean cruise on Princess. That resulted in 7 million impressions.

Meanwhile, the company’s digital team ensured the website would promote the offer to visitors from IP addresses in those states. Leveraging behavioral and customer segmentation, online customers were also served up geo-targeted digital ads, social media posts, and email communication.

“Flee the Freeze was very much driven by PR and involved all the different teams at Princess to create this very tailored, geo-targeted offer message. In fact, we saw an increase in bookings from this region like never before,” says Wise.

Bookings increased in targeted states by 40%. In addition, 38% of the passengers booked were new guests to Princess.

But personalization extends beyond online communications to the actual product experience a brand offers. Research from Epsilon indicates that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers a personalized experience.

To that end, once cruisers have booked with Princess, the brand begins a conversation with them. This includes suggesting onboard offers and excursions based on data and customer segmentation (“discerning charger” versus “adventurous explorer,” for example).

“This is especially important to do for first-time cruisers, so that we can eliminate the fear that they might have of missing out or having to comb through tons of information to find what really interests them,” says Wise.

The benefits of personalization

Onboard, Princess has been testing a wearable device called Ocean Medallion. While it serves as both room key and online charge card, the device also uses data and sensor-based technology to help Princess tailor the cruise experience to each passenger. For example, it gives passengers alerts about activities they’re interested in and allows them to create their own digital avatar. The avatar morphs during the duration of the cruise based on the activities the guest engages in.

Medallion is now on Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess, although the company’s goal is to offer it fleet-wide.

“Our net promotor scores on ships with Medallion and those passengers who have experienced it is higher than those without it,” notes Wise. “Ultimately, we want our personalization to be seamless, across every customer touchpoint from awareness and consideration to the pre-cruise process and on board. People love feeling special and that is what one-to-one communication does.”

“The greatest challenge right now is having the data all in one central place and understanding the different variances,” says Wise. “In some areas we’re ahead of the curve, in others we’re still learning and growing as the technologies evolve.”

Transitions Optical, which manufactures eyewear that adjusts and adapts to changing light, has also been using customer segmentation, emerging technology, and earned media strategies to provide a more relevant experience to a recently identified new target: young adults.

“We see many brands providing unique options for personalization, which we know is popular with millennials,” says Patience Cook, director of North America marketing at Transitions Optical. “The key to personalizing your eyewear is styling the look that best meets a consumer’s personality. Consumers are already doing this in store with the help of their optician, but thanks to today’s marketing we’re able to help consumers envision themselves in Transitions Lenses.”

That is especially important to do in reaching Gen Z and millennial eyeglass wearers, a growth opportunity for the brand.

Combining outreach methods

According to research Transitions commissioned with the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), 56% of millennial eyeglass wearers are interested in trying Transitions Lenses. However, only 16% of eyeglass wearers under the age of 45 are currently wearing the product, says Cook.

Its PR firm Golin held a workshop with Transitions to sift through consumer data from Market Research Insight, GlobalWebIndex, and Pew Research Center and develop customer profiles and personas. These were used by the brand to develop creative, target prospective new consumers, and engage existing consumers for its Lights Under Control campaign, which launched in April.

The campaign included digital and social media, as well as partnerships with online influencers who wear Transitions Lenses in their glasses. On Snapchat, the brand invested in augment reality that gave young people an opportunity to “try on” the product.

“There are a number of environments for users to choose from, so they can truly see themselves living life in our everyday eyewear. Users are then directed to shop the Transitions website,” says Cook. “We’ve seen strong consumer engagement with our Snapchat lens to date, both in time spent and in snaps shared.”

Through ongoing brand tracking efforts, Transitions monitors intent to buy across age groups and then leverages PR efforts to help bring them into a store or to the website. According to its most recent research, 56% of eyeglass wearers under 45 who were aware of the Transitions brand intend to purchase.

But the personalized experience doesn’t stop once they are in store. Transitions has shared with its eyecare partners generational strategies on interacting with customers.

“In the age of the selfie, Transitions knows style and self-image is important to young eyeglass wearers. Glasses are part of their personal identity,” notes Cook. “To appeal and remain relevant to the target millennial audience, we are now telling stories in a way that they can see themselves, relate to, and aspire to.”


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