For years, Nielsen has provided the world’s most comprehensive consumer data to businesses ranging from multi-national store chains to bijou boutiques. Specifically, they have helped their clients measure and improve performance through connecting their networks to third-party data and analytics partners that supplement the most robust CPG and retail shopper data in the world. How do they accomplish this? Through a collaborative ecosystem, the Nielsen Connected Partner Program ultimately enables Nielsen clients and data partners to easily bridge their insights and harness the data necessary to net mutually beneficial results – making it a win-win for all parties involved.

One of those partners who has helped comprise the “DNA” from the very beginnings of the Nielsen Connected Partner Program is ShopAdvisor. By partnering with Nielsen, ShopAdvisor is able to give their customers — agencies, brands and retailers — an even more accurate picture of where their products are available in stores across the U.S. This is critical in powering any drive-to-store proximity marketing campaign because you cannot send a customer to a location where they expect a specific product to be, but then come to discover that the product isn’t there.  Not only does this damage the relationship with the consumer, but often leads to purchase of another brand that competes with the promoted product or worse, a walkout.

This past week, ShopAdvisor was invited to take part in the first of a series of intimate events for Nielsen – the nDigital Tech Talks. The focus of this premier tech talk was personalizing the shopper path to purchase and how data science, such a ShopAdvisor’s intelligence platform, plays a vital role in this. Below are some of the questions from the live event and ShopAdvisor panelist, Bill McLaughlin’s take on personalization now, and in the future for today’s always connected, savvy consumer.

From left to right:
Bill McLaughlin, ShopAdvisor SVP Sales & Marketing, Jason Nibauer, VP at Nielsen and Andy Ellwood, BasketSavings President

Nielsen: What is personalization? When it comes to shoppers / consumers?

ShopAdvisor: It’s basically giving the consumer the right message or offer at the right time and the right place that spurs action. For us personalization goes beyond the individual’s demographics, behavioral characteristics, product preferences and past purchases. Added to that is contextualization, which adds attributes such seasonality, weather, time of day, and relevant product availability.

Nielsen: How does data play a part in this?

ShopAdvisor: More data leads to more intelligence and insights, which leads to optimal personalization.  The avenues we can collect data from and contextualize them, the better the experience for the consumer, which translates into more revenue and customer loyalty for the brand or retailer.

Nielsen: What has changed in shopper behavior to cause this influx in personalization?

ShopAdvisor: There has been a confluence of factors that are making this continually happen.  First is the explosion in smartphone technology, its usage and the commensurate growth in mobile initiated shopping. Secondly, it’s the changing demographics of today’s shopper.  Gen Xers and Millennials, who were raised using personal technology, now far surpass baby boomers in terms of sheer numbers and purchasing power.  And thirdly, and perhaps even more importantly, is that people are becoming more comfortable with making their digital information available.  Ten, even five years ago there was great concern among consumers about privacy and security.  While these will always be relevant, people have become so much more accepting in allowing access to their locations, browsing history, preferences, etc.  They’ve become more accepting of the quid pro quo of this digital deal.

Nielsen: What are the current trends in personalization?

ShopAdvisor: From a personalization standpoint the “intelligence” quotient will increase due to more effective implementations of machine learning/artificial intelligence.  In terms of what that will look like I think you will see ever increasing sophistication in the visuals and video elements. Another will be the integration of virtual augmented reality.  Examples include AR dressing rooms or seeing how a piece a furniture would look in a room in your house.  IKEA provides this service.  Augment and SayDuck are examples of companies whose apps/technology enables brands to provide an AR rendering of their products.

Nielsen: Is personalization past it’s prime? Too invasive?

ShopAdvisor: Not at all.  I think we’re still in the very early stages of it.  The limitations are only bounded by people’s imaginations and technology.  Remember that the first iPhone was introduced just 10 years ago.  Think how much things have changed since then and the rate of change is only increasing. Whether or not it’s too invasive is a personal choice.  People can always opt out. The challenge is understanding what you are or not allowing in terms of giving up your personal information.

Nielsen: What should advertisers be doing today? Tomorrow? Why?

ShopAdvisor: First, is to always stay close to your customer. Understand what motivates them, what technologies they are embracing and let that be the foundation.  But, you cannot abdicate how fast you innovate to the customer.  There should always be a team testing out the latest innovations and leading the customer to new experiences.

Nielsen: What will personalization look like in 5 years?

ShopAdvisor: Given the pace of change it’s very hard to say.  But fundamentally it will be smarter, adaptive, more visual and experiential.  Amazon’s new stores, “Just Walk Out Technology” is a great example of what things could be like.

To learn more about Nielsen’s Connected Partner Program and how ShopAdvisor is contributing, please click here.

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