Customers Star at Macy's

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Customers Star at Macy's
Customers Star at Macy's

Macy's CMO Martine Reardon's philosophy can be summed up simply: “It's about putting the customer at the center of all our decisions,” she said during her keynote at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Econsultancy's Integrated Marketing Week conference in New York. And the evolution of these customers, especially in how they interact, research, and buy, is the fulcrum of Macy's increasing reliance on data to drive its marketing and stocking decisions.

So who's the average Macy's customer? “They're just regular people,” Reardon said. They're not necessarily VIPs though in our minds, they are VIPs because anybody who steps into our store or on our site are VIPs.”

While the consumers Macy's caters to aren't necessarily the fashion trendsetters, they are nonetheless interested in being fashionable and they tend to count on Macy's to suggest what to wear and how to look.

They're also value-conscious—a concept that transcends price. “They're looking for great prices,” Reardon said, “but what they're really looking for is quality at a great price.”

She also knows that Macy's customers tend to care for family and friends—which makes Macy's social marketing components critical.

From traditional to digital

Macy's digital marketing has evolved significantly in recent years. When the department store first went online, everything was designed for desktop interfaces. Mobile devices—smartphones and especially tablets—were hardly an afterthought.

Things are different today. Reardon knows that 20% of U.S. consumers now check their phones every 10 minutes, and the always-on, always-connected nature of consumers has catalyzed different thinking about the role mobile plays in Macy's marketing mix.

“We've started to think about that a bit differently and actually start with the mobile device and take it out to other platforms,” Reardon said.

At the highest level, there are three types of shoppers Macy's identifies: those who purchase in-store, those who purchase online, and those who purchase both in-store and online. It's the hybrid customer that Reardon identifies as “the golden nugget.” She's found that on average, customers engaging in both channels spend twice as much as single-channel customers.

This presents some unique challenges for Macy's. It wants to understand its customers better to serve up more relevant content and buying opportunities. At the same time, the ideal customer is approaching Macy's from numerous different channels—and the onus is on Macy's to make sure that its channels' strategies are aligned and consistent. For instance, the department store might understand that a certain customer prefers shoes and jewelry direct mail pieces over menswear. “But if you can do that in one channel,” Reardon said, “how do you do that in all channels?”

This is why the liberation and use of data across channels has become increasingly important for Macy's marketing strategies. This is, of course, easier said than done. For instance, Macy's already has what Reardon describes as “a very rich database”—one that informs the company, for instance, which customers prefer print and which prefer email. It also has been working on a database associated with its e-commerce platform designed to enable real-time targeting.

Knowing and loving the data

But Macy's also has to make sure that the data it collects can be exposed to company decision-makers. “It's our responsibility to make sure that data is being shared across the company so we can make decisions about which products are sold in Florida or San Diego or Washington State,” Reardon said.

This is important because despite its cohesive identity, Macy's has well over 800 stores nationwide—and the customer in San Francisco isn't necessarily the same as the customer in New York. Macy's has an internal organization that listens to customers in different locations to determine which items to stock. “Texas loves bright colors,” Reardon said. “In San Diego the top three colors in the summer are black, black, and black. We wouldn't have thought of that! We would have thought New York was black, black, and black, and San Diego was about bright colors. That's why you need that intelligence.”

Consequently, Macy's needs to do more than make data available—it needs to make sure that it's presented in a way that's actionable to avoid “analysis paralysis.” Macy's fields a team designed to decipher analytics and present findings to senior organization members. The internal goal is to ensure that Macy's staff develops familiarity working with data.

And it's through this familiarity that Macy's hopes to become more than a brand to its customers. “We want to know more about [our customers],” Reardon said, “not just if she likes red lipstick or ballet flats. We want to know more about her [lifestyle] habits so we can deliver relevant content and be an important part of her life.”

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