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Analyzing Customer Behavior in Real-Time

By Stephen Quinn, EVP & CMO, Walmart

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Stephen Quinn, EVP & CMO, Walmart

Reset in Customer Expectation Alters Marketing

I was brought up in the mass marketing world of Consumer Packaged Goods. The idea was to generate mass demand for products with broad appeal through advertising that reached the majority of the public. When I started in retail, almost a decade ago that was a very good model for that sector as well and its till works quite well. But, we can all see that is changing due to the fragmentation of consumers, products, media, content and channels. There is a complete reset in customer expectations taking place and that’s changing marketing and it’s all happening because of technology. The major way that my role as CMO has changed is that it has moved from developing and delivering the best message that wins with the majority of shoppers to curating a host of messages to customized audiences. In many ways developing and enabling an organization that can do this using the latest tools and new sources of data is my most important role now. Why is that? Because the old top-down hierarchical approach to marketing can’t deliver authentic, targeted marketing at scale–we need a massively empowered team with great tools at their disposal.

"My role as CMO has changed from developing and delivering effective messages to curating a host of messages for customized audiences"

The Changing Face of Technology

There are several technologies which are changing marketing and retail. First, is the automation of the marketing process. At its core, marketing is about creating a customer. That means understanding the distinguishing needs of segments of customers, sourcing products or services that meet those needs and making sure that they know that we have what they are looking for. Along the way you try to build a brand reputation. This cycle used to be very slow because we had to check in with customers at each of the stages on road to making a sale. Now data on customers, digital content and the ability to optimize based on real time customer behavior means the process can be massively compressed and repeated across thousands of market opportunities simultaneously. This is great and it is putting tremendous pressure on the marketing supply chain and radically changing the role of the marketer. A second trend is how Big Data is making totally new opportunities available. As masses of data are generated, better organized and unleashed by connecting them to other sources of data, insights and products never before possible are becoming a reality. This makes it possible based on behavior to discover things that shoppers couldn’t even tell you about themselves.

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