Loyalty360 asked a few experts in the loyalty industry about trends related to customer behavior, how brands can leverage these insights to strengthen relationships and spark expanded brand loyalty, and the positives and challenges associated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

What trends related to customer behavior do you see or predict and how can brands leverage these insights?

Farshad Fardad, CEO of GlobalWide Media: Influencer marketing is the perfect way to hint at the products and brands users should be buying for their friends, family, and significant others. If the target is a likely purchaser of a new bathrobe and someone in their influencer network sees an ad for bathrobes, they may either buy it as a gift, or refer the key target to the brand.

Julie Ginches, CMO of ViralGains: Today’s technology solutions allow a brand to ask what a consumer wants and how they feel about your brand. Each consumer should be treated to an experience that suits their declared preferences.

Rich Kahn, CEO and co-founder of eZanga: Trends always move toward getting customers to buy more and with increased frequency. This is leveraged by getting to them sooner than their competitors. Retailers are trying to get ahead of Black Friday by enticing shoppers to make that purchase before the big day. By getting inside their heads to get the orders in early, you feel as if you don’t have to wait for Black Friday, whereas in years past, you’d split up with a list to get all of the best deals.

For example, I read an article that Target Red Card holders can get access to Black Friday deals 24 hours ahead of anyone else and, with your Red Card, you save an additional 5 percent. If you’re a Red Card holder, you’re likely already a Target shopper. Why not promote brand loyalty with a small incentive before everyone else has access to the same deals!

Radoslaw Dobrolecki, USA Business Development Director, RTB House: Deep learning tools are the next major area of AI-based research and it will spark a wave of future innovation in every industry–bringing a new era of marketing which both advertisers and end users will experience.

What is being done well with Black Friday and Cyber Monday and where do the challenges lie?

Kahn: Ease of use and customer experience is always paramount. You’re trying to give customers what they want. Some want the craziness that is Black Friday, whereas others desire the convenience to shop in their pajamas. At the end of the day, they both want to walk away knowing they had some big wins, and they are happy with their purchases. No one wants to spend all of their time loading online carts, hopping store to store, or dealing with the frustrations that come with shopping for the holidays if they can’t feel good about some big (and small) wins. The challenge still lies in cutting through the messaging and getting through to their core shoppers to get that last big boost for the year.

Dobrolecki: There is a reason why this season is called ‘shopping madness.’ For both offline and online shops, this short period of time can be the most exciting and promising time of the year. No doubts that the offers that day will outdistance each other so the customers often won’t finalize the transaction because, as we all know, plenty is no plague. Marketers’ roles start a few weeks before the events, but actually last longer than just until Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For example, many people feel this huge need of urgency, but due to various reasons won’t buy what they are looking for. A few days after they should be approached by interesting offers which can lead them to make the purchase.

Have brands simplified the experience enough on these two massive shopping days?

Kahn: There is always room for improvement. Brands have gotten better, with Amazon likely being a key success in this space due to their ease of use and the ability to deliver items two days later. Many online retailers are modeling the Amazon experience to optimize for the ‘I want it now’ mentality along with the ‘for the best deal’ kind of fit. 

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