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Stand by customers to avoid a collapse

In these challenging times there has been a lot of comment about what it will take to keep consumers spending.

Confidence is fragile and the threat of a growing number of unemployed people undermines any stability. While retailers seek to position their new ranges as being great value, for shoppers this is not a trade-off between quality and price, but an expectation of lower prices.

Yet against this gloomy backdrop there are some real winners. Etailer Asos and home-shopping firms N Brown and Boden have all reported strong results. Do they know something their rivals don’t?

A sale to a satisfied customer only happens if the great product, price and experience is relevant to customer needs. If retailers don’t stand for something which is relevant there will be no engagement.

Being obsessed with what customers want and staying in tune with shopping trends has never been more important than it is now. Customer insight needs to identify if, for example, your shoppers have started to trade down, shop less frequently or wait for bargains in the Sales. Trying to push them in the opposite direction will not only fail to generate the expected return, but it will tell your customers that you don’t understand them.

With reductions in marketing budgets as a consequence of the economic slowdown, most retailers will have less opportunity to persuade their customers that there is a reason to shop with them. Winning retailers understand that this is a virtuous circle, with each interaction reinforcing the positive impression already held, driving affinity, loyalty and keeping tills busy.

Clive Briscoe is director of retail marketing consultancy CSB Marketing

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