The Secret is in the Data: Delivering What Customers Need & Desire

The secret to the success of most businesses can be found in the wisdom of one of the most successful retailers of all time — the legendary Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds. He described his business and its success several years ago with the philosophy that guided his life. He noted that his business was “to serve the needs and desires of our core customer base.”

Serving customer needs is much more complicated today. There is greater competition than ever before. Today, we also have consumers who know that they can demand more value and they are getting what they demand. Fortunately, we also have technology that is giving businesses – particularly retailers – the tools to meet this demanding environment.

The collection and analysis of customer data has been the cornerstone of the marketing concept and selling things that people need. Market research programs have become a common tool for most companies seeking to understand what consumers want. The problem with this kind of data is that it is at best an aggregate snapshot of a group or groups of people. Understanding the requirements of a specific individual was rarely a possibility within the execution of a typical market research study. Technology, however, has altered our ability to understand individual consumers. It has allowed us to make predictions and suggestions based on individuals rather than groups of individuals.

Amazon.com spearheaded the concept of capturing data relevant to individual needs. Launching as a small bookstore originally, Amazon began selling online and quickly grew to one of the first big companies to sell goods over the Internet. Amazon quickly diversified by adding other items, such as VHS tapes and DVDs, music CDs, software, video games, electronics, MP3s, clothing, furniture, toys and even food items. Its secret was not selling books and products. Its secret was in capturing the data to target and track what the profiles are of users searching for various products.

Other companies have observed Amazon’s success and have worked to extend the understanding of individual needs and requirements to other categories. A case in point: Have you ever bought clothing you knew you would end up returning? Have you ever left unworn clothing hanging in your closet for months? Maybe it just didn’t fit properly….but nothing seemed to fit perfectly in the store at the time and you needed something “now”. This is a reality for many consumers. Consumers need a curator to help them navigate throughout the shopping experience and receive a personalized shopping guide with a list of recommendations of best-fitting, ready-to-wear styles based on specific size and shape. That guide is available now!

Understanding individual needs based on the data from individuals — a sort of individual buying guide — is exactly what Me-Ality by Unique Solutions provides. Me-Ality takes the process of understanding and delivering on individual needs to a new level. How do they do it? They do it by gathering and analyzing data. Fully clothed, a consumer enters into the size matching station and stands still for about 10 seconds while the scanning wand rotates around the consumer’s body. The size matching station registers some demographic information to complement the assessment of the consumer’s measurements.

Exact body measurements are captured and then matched to the sizing specifications of apparel brands in the database. Me-Ality holds the largest database of body measurements that reflect the true size and shape of a person’s body. This data is the key to advancing the ability of brands and retailers to deliver on what consumers want, and it will change the way consumers shop.

Understanding the consumer’s profile gives the retailer the opportunity to create feature products that satisfy the consumer, resulting in fewer returns. Me-Ality brings qualified, educated customers into the store ready to buy products. This service introduces customers to new brands they have never tried before and encourages people to try on apparel in the stores, which is an important step in making a sale. Based on Me-Ality’s data, brand clients can better plan where they can make product changes to their current designs to better fit more of the consumer population. They can analyze the size data against a specific consumer demographic to better manage their inventory and develop new products that fit specific consumer groups.

Demographic and measurement data used by the apparel brand enables better target marketing to different audiences. The brand client is able to determine who fits their brand, where they live, what their ethnicity is and how old they are. Through this targeted marketing, Me-Ality creates a positive shopping experience before the consumer even enters the store. Service like this can increase store and online shopping revenues and eliminate costly returns.

By empowering the consumers with what looks best on them, the retailer can better suit their needs, and manufactures and brands can create products that are in high demand. In his book The New Rules of Retail, Robin Lewis predicts that there will be an explosion of retailers competing for a limited pool of consumer dollars and higher costs of entry for sellers, Me-Ality provides the tools so that consumers and retailers participate in a win-win exchange of goods and services during this expected “explosion.” In the future, this will change the way consumers shop. This will also change the retail and branding landscape in the delivery of consumer needs and wants. This is a fit all businesses need and desire to succeed!

Dr. Larry Chiagouris About Dr. Larry Chiagouris

Larry Chiagouris has been called “a branding guru”, an “All-Star marketing strategist”, and “a consumer behavior expert” by the media. His opinions on modern marketing practice have appeared in hundreds of media outlets throughout the world, including the Today Show, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal. He has authored more than 50 articles and books addressing marketing and retailing issues. He currently holds an appointment as Professor of Marketing at the Lubin School of Business of Pace University in New York and is President of BrandMarketing Services, a marketing consultancy. He holds a Ph.D. in Marketing and Consumer Behavior from the City University of New York. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Marketing Association and as Chairman of the Advertising Research Foundation.