As we enter the all-important holiday shopping season, retailers are struggling with a big problem: customer loyalty. A new survey from RSR Research shows that retailers are looking for ways to retain customers and increase loyalty. This trouble may stem from retailers not understanding who their best customers are though top performers claim to have solved this problem and are already rolling out more customer-centric approaches.

Analysts agree that before retailers can improve loyalty, they first need to understand their best customers. In the era of big data, retailers who capture information about customer preferences are better performers. By soliciting opinions on products and services, top performers are able to tweak their offerings and appear responsive to customer requests. Above all, top performing retailers spend time and money getting the customer experience right, sometimes neglecting product in the process.

Making this effort is not easy and that explains why only 56% of retailers say they are able to identify their best shoppers. Last year, 73% of retailers claimed to know their best customers. It’s worth wondering whether the increasingly competitive business climate and the expanding number of marketing challenges have moved retailer attention away from connecting with customers.

Top marketing challenges faced by retailers participating in the RSR Research study are as follows:

  • Customer retention and loyalty 51%
  • Uncertain economy constrains marketing budget 47%
  • Customer segment fragmentation 41%
  • Competition is constantly copying innovations 31%
  • Many new communication channels remain unproven 29%
  • Difficult to manage all the ways to communicate with customers 28%
  • Brand differentiation is a challenge 23%
  • Customer pushback against data collection 13%

After studying this report, retailers may realize they need to open marketing channels that increase customer engagement. Whether they use more email or social media, reaching out in a ‘customer-centric’ approach will help them achieve results that mirror the ‘winners’ in their industry.

To learn more about social media users who consider themselves Brand Friends & Followers, a key customer group for retailers, check out the report available from the Research Store at ad-ology.com.

[Source: Marketing in Retail. RSR Research.com 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2012]