Survive or thrive: the value of data insight

How data insight can make the difference between surviving or thriving in 2021 and beyond.

6 minute read

April 13, 2021

Last Updated: March 10, 2022

The global pandemic has impacted many aspects of our everyday lives, both professionally and personally. We’ve all faced our own challenges and have needed to adapt and find or create new ways of doing things we previously took for granted.

The retail industry has been among one of the hardest hit in terms of change. If you didn’t have e-commerce capabilities pre-Covid-19, then you had to transform pretty quickly to survive lockdown and beyond.

In the Ikano Insight retail report, we analyse what these changes mean for retailers, and address four key questions about how to better understand the new consumer landscape:

  • How can data insights help retailers to understand new consumer behaviours, retain customers and gain new ones?
  • What impact will the pandemic have on physical store shopping?
  • What are the key priorities for consumers and how should retailers respond?
  • How can retailers consolidate online and offline data to offer seamless brand experiences across omnichannel touchpoints?

Karen Pflug, CEO of Ikano Insight, draws on her background in retail to analyse the latest consumer research and explain how data insights can help retailers not just survive but thrive.

With over 25 years of experience in the retail industry, having worked with global retail and lifestyle brands such as IKEA, Nike, Reebok and Triumph International, Karen combines her depth of knowledge and strong business analytical skills with a real passion for people and their behaviours.

The report also features data expertise from Tom Hutchings, Head of Analytics at Ikano Insight. During his career Tom has provided analytical insight for global companies, such as Pharmacy2U and eharmony, and is passionate about helping modern retail brands make sense of the data at their fingertips.

Together, Karen and Tom identify the strategies needed to improve customer engagement and increase profitability in a fast-changing world. The report also includes ‘best practice’ case studies of how retailers, across the globe, have demonstrated agility and are taking advantage of new opportunities.

“When used properly, this data gives retailers a tremendous opportunity to really take hold of their business and nurture every single customer whilst the brand and experience is still fresh in their minds.”

The data opportunities

The report has been created in response to the impact on retailers of the Covid-19 pandemic; a boom in online retail and rapid shifts in consumer behaviour.

This change in circumstances has created a challenge for some retailers, but promises long term rewards to those that can adapt with agility and clearness of strategy.

As Tom Hutchings, Head of Analytics at Ikano Insight, says in the report, “Online shopping, by its nature, creates a much greater volume of data compared to shopping in-store. Even if you were a pure-play online retailer before the pandemic you will have collected a lot of new data in the last year.

“When used properly, this data gives retailers a tremendous opportunity to really take hold of their business and nurture every single customer whilst the brand and experience is still fresh in their minds.”

The report provides concrete learnings for retail brands to get the most from their data, to truly understand their customers’ needs and priorities in the post-pandemic landscape and adapt accordingly.

The homebody economy

In the last year, the rise of the homebody economy – products and services designed to cater to stay-at-home consumers – has led to the emergence of new consumer behaviours and buying patterns.

The report explores what these changes mean for retailers, and how taking advantage of this huge disruption across the sector can reap benefits for agile brands.

“The winners are those who have access to customer data and understand what it means”, says Ikano Insight CEO Karen. “They have been able to adapt and stay one step ahead; predicting what consumers are going to want or do next.”

The huge amount of data, made available by the surge in online traffic, provides a wealth of information for brands that know how to get the most from it.

The question is where do you start?

How do you consolidate the data and unlock the truth behind it to give you intelligent and actionable insights?

“At Ikano Insight our approach is very much about the human dimension”, says Karen, “combining smart data science with our genuine desire to understand people and tell the story behind the data.

“It’s not data for data’s sake, it’s about really tapping into your customers’ needs and aspirations to create an effective marketing strategy, based on real insights rather than just gut instinct.”

“When customers feel they are understood and listened to, they are more likely to be loyal and trust in you. It’s about communicating the right messages, in the right way, at the right time, through the right channels.”

Brand trust

The report explores the importance of brand loyalty and the ‘brand promise.’

Customers are increasingly drawn to brands demonstrating authenticity, when it comes to social and ethical responsibility.  Consumers are challenging and questioning brand purpose, as well as their own shopping needs and desires.

As the latest Global Consumer Insights report by PWC states, “Our recent consumer research is pointing to an increased desire among citizens for transparency, sustainability,  cleanliness, community living and social consciousness.”

As Karen explains, the pandemic did not trigger this shift, but rather catalysed a trend that was already emerging:

“Although this trend started pre-Covid-19, it intensified in 2020 with people becoming more focused on community and social responsibility, acting as a force for good during the pandemic. A brand’s values and motivations have become more important to its customers.”

With this trend showing no sign of slowing down, how should retailers adapt?

“Use data insight to build better trust and connect with your customers”, says Tom.

“At Ikano Insight we’re grounded in data but it’s our passion for understanding the people and stories behind the data that makes us unique.

“This humanistic approach enables you to create strong connections and sustainable trust between your customers and your brand.”

Now is not the time for blanket messaging, advertising bombardment or generic content.

By understanding your data, you can understand your customers and shape your messaging accordingly to give them a more personalised experience.

As Karen explains, “When customers feel they are understood and listened to, they are more likely to be loyal and trust in you. It’s about communicating the right messages, in the right way, at the right time, through the right channels.”

The report reveals how data insight can help retailers achieve this, and provides case studies of brands that have used creative technology to adapt to the changing needs of their target market.

The survival of physical stores

Global research currently indicates that consumers will be hesitant when it comes to returning to physical store shopping.

The report reveals that in Southeast Asia, there are signs that the short-term changes to customer behaviour could become bedded into long-term habits.

Ikano Insight CEO Karen Pflug comments, “With people now more used to shopping from the comfort of their own homes, the ease of convenience that online shopping, apps and social media afford poses a real threat to physical store shopping.

“Your local high street or mall needs to become something else; it needs to be all about the experience and feeling connected with others.”

How can brands achieve this?

“The real winners”, says Karen, “will be the retailers seamlessly integrating their digital and store experiences and data will play a key role in this.”

“The Brands that will thrive are those that intelligently use data insights to understand their customers and take an innovative approach to creating unique and compelling experiences.”

According to Ikano Insight’s Head of Analytics, Tom Hutchings, data insight will be increasingly vital for successful brands of the future to understand and develop an effective omnichannel strategy.

“Our skill is in data storytelling: simplifying and making sense of your omnichannel data so you can understand the shifts in customer behaviour based on actionable insights.”

The upshot?

“We create insight that can help retailers thrive in a post-Covid-19 world.”

Future predictions

The report reveals how the success of retail brands, in the future, will depend on their ability to gather data insight and then understand and act on it.

It is no longer enough to simply have a great product. Companies need to have a comprehensive understanding of their target customers.

The key to that is data insight.

Download the full report here to understand how data insight can help your brand to thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Posted by Sarah Cumber


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Survive or thrive: the value of data insight