5 ‘social citizenship’ personas that will shape retail strategies

An executive from Mastercard discusses a project that tries to categorize the “digital DNA” of shoppers and what kind of information they’re willing to share with merchants

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If you’re relying on demographics to target your customers with promotions and offers, you might not be getting the results you want. And you may not understand why.

Since the emergence of online shopping, retailers have tended to group shoppers by demographic, such as age, gender or nationality. But a new global study by MasterCard has found demographics aren’t actually that relevant — it’s all about digital DNA.

And this means thinking about your overall IT and network strategy in a different way.

The Digital Sharing and Trust Project looks at how consumers share when they go online, but also why they share. With the survey results, MasterCard came up with five “digital personas,” which reflect what a consumer is willing to share and how much value they place on their personal information.

“When we got the results we were blown away,” said Theodore Iacobuzio, vice-president of MasterCard’s Global Insights group, in an interview with expertIP. “The big finding of the study was that national characteristics are simply irrelevant in an online context. In saying that, we’re saying quite a great deal — any country in the world is the proxy for any other country.”

MasterCard calls this “social citizenship,” where demographics are less important than digital personas. These personas are not on a spectrum, nor are they porous — you’re either in or you’re out. So, says Iacobuzio, if you’re on the Internet, you fit into one of these five personas.

For retailers, demographics are becoming less important in customer segmentation, says Iacobuzio. Sure, age and gender do skew the results slightly, but “it’s minor, it’s not determinative,” he says. The determining factor is why a consumer goes online in the first place.

In today’s world, data is currency. So which consumers are willing to barter with their personal information?

Of the five personas that MasterCard identifies, “solely shoppers” and “open sharers” are willing to trade their personal information to get something in return — and that makes up more than 40 per cent of the global population. If you dig into the numbers, the percentages are remarkably similar from country to country.

The study found that 21 per cent of online consumers are “open sharers.” They’re online more than 10 times a day, and when they share their personal information they expect deals, offers and access in return.

“Solely shoppers,” which make up 21 per cent of online consumers, rely on the Internet for shopping research and purchases; half use their mobile phone to price-check in-store or get deals.

The other three personas are “simply interactors,” “passive users” and “proactive protectors.”

Regardless of persona, 64 per cent of all consumers in the survey believe their personal data has value to merchants and advertisers, and 55 per cent appreciate when offers are tailored to them based on the information they share.

If you’re a retailer, using these recommendations can give you a leg-up when designing your online and mobile customer experiences, rather than just focusing on age, gender or nationality (which may not get you the results you’re looking for).

It also means designing your infrastructure to support these different personas. Some personas, for example, use mobile technology on a more regular basis and are more likely to shop from their mobile device. This speaks to the importance of the omni-channel and being able to target the right offer to the right persona over the right device.

It means looking at your customers — and your strategy around technology — differently. But understanding how and why your customers want to share information means you’re in a better position to engage them, rather than alientate them.

Meeting the needs of digital personas starts with having the right network in place. Learn how BCBGMAXAZRIA securely connected its national retail network with managed MPLS

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