In an incredibly short period, the world of retail has gone from scarcity to abundance.

With countless options at their fingertips, consumers have become more discerning; they are price-checking products in stores, reading up on ratings and reviews from fellow shoppers and forums before buying, and demanding a more personalised experience from retailers.

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Consumers no longer want to buy from faceless brands with lacklustre marketing campaigns and meaningless messaging. The modern consumer values ‘valuesabove all else.

US-based customer engagement expert Iterable director of marketing EMEA Elle Nadal tells Retail Insight Network how retailers can meet consumer demands through recognising the value of differentiation, humanisation, and customisation.

The value of values

Consumers want to know where their favourite brands stand on the biggest issues of the age, and retail brands need to respond to this appetite for purpose-driven marketing.

New research from Iterable into UK and US consumers found an overwhelming majority (88%) are more receptive to a brand’s messaging if they know its beliefs and values, as infusing a sense of mission and purpose into brand messaging augments the authenticity of communication with customers and helps to grow trust.

Of course, with everything in marketing, it’s important to approach a shift in sentiment with caution. Consumers can tell when they are being pandered to.

For a brand to be considered authentic, its communications need to be perceived as real, reliable, and respectful.

In other words, you can’t just talk the talk – you have to walk the walk by truly standing by what you proclaim to care about. These days, platitudes are cheap, but commitments are what customers deserve.

Incorporating Inclusivity

The power paradigm has shifted from the retailer to the customer, and this is great news. Just last year, 58% of consumers said they had received a brand message on social/political issues.

Crucially, around three-quarters of consumers (71%) said receiving these messages encouraged positive associations with said brands.

At the top of consumers’ list for social issues and impact commentary: inclusivity.

We live in a complex and diverse world. Consumers respond positively to brands that embrace this interconnectedness and infuse their marketing with inclusive language and imagery.

Brands like ASOS, Boux Avenue, and NIKE have driven down on the incorporation of racial diversity and a wider variety of body types in their marketing campaigns. This is the first step in a much larger movement to ensure diversity, inclusivity, equity and belonging are endorsed and infused in marketing.

The decision – to drive awareness, show support, and drive greater diversity – in marketing will be crucial in winning over and building brand loyalty with customers.

Three-quarters of the surveyed customers reported that they would be more likely to purchase from a brand when people who look like them are represented in their ads.

For example, Iterable customer success enablement manager and Pride affinity leader Jeffrey Marquez said: “Pride is something we focus on in June, yes, but we’re gay 365 days a year…I’m hopeful that we’ll live in a world where we’re surrounded by inclusive spaces in the workplace and inclusive images in our inbox.”

Authenticity in Action

Retailers around the world and across industries are taking action to cater to new expectations by implementing an omnichannel approach.

Shoppers expect the ability to shop seamlessly whether it’s online or in-store but only 7% of retailers offer a unified commerce experience, making omnichannel a major opportunity for brands willing to go all-in.

When it comes to evolving customer expectations, creating memorable, mission-driven customers is a winning formula for retailers.

Focus on differentiating your brand through transparency and trust, while catering to savvy cross-channel customers. Above all else, be authentic. Shoppers are calling the shots, and brands that don’t take a stand won’t make the cut.