Last updated: April 12, 2022 How to personalize customer experience: A D2C road map

How to personalize customer experience: A D2C road map


A distinct shift is happening in terms of what consumers want and where they want to obtain it. Savvy CPG marketers aim to understand what drives consumers’ choices in order to personalize customer experience, from discovery to purchase to post-purchase.

They need to activate each sales channel with the right content to engage each consumer in a way that’s relevant, personalized, and reflective of their individual priorities and preferences.

The days when marketers could focus on a single customer profile are long gone. Instead, they need to understand the emotions and sentiments that drive shoppers’ actions by listening and responding to consumer signals across the entire digital customer journey.

This is especially true in direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce. Before, D2C brands were forced to rely on confusing reseller data for customer insight. Now, they can collect myriad types of data directly to better understand who their customers are and what they want.

Ditch the cookie cutter, personalize customer experience

We’re entering a new era in retail: consumers don’t just want products, they want services, experiences, and relationships with brands. To provide this, retailers have to understand much more about who their shoppers are, what they enjoy, and where they want to checkout to further personalize the customer experience (CX).

A one-size-fits-all approach to retail is in the rearview mirror, especially for D2C. Winning in modern retail requires a CX personalization strategy to offer a differentiated experience.

This also extends to sales channels: simply providing a bunch of sales channels doesn’t work. A “build it and they will come” mentality is antiquated. Shoppers need diverse options to meet their individual preferences. At the same time, they need a consistently optimized experience on those channels.

A retailer wouldn’t pick out inventory, set it live on a few sales channels, and then never update it. Shopper preferences and expectations are always changing, so adding new channels, experiences, and products keeps D2C retailers on the cutting edge.

D2C advantage: First-party data

When it comes to consumer packaged goods (CPG), success stems from providing channel choices to consumers. Those channels must be connected for flexibility and convenience, allowing consumers to engage on their own terms.

Moving away from the cookie cutter consumer means catering to endless customer profiles with the help of first-party data. Gathering, analyzing, and acting on this data is vital because it reveals deeper customer insights that shed light on intent and anticipate customer behavior.

Here’s where D2C retailers have a distinct advantage. Their digital channels offer the opportunity to continuously collect and act on customer data.

For example, a website might cookie a shopper who looks at a pair of shoes multiple times after receiving a personalized email featuring the footwear. This helps retailers better understand their customers’ true intentions and design engaging experiences that build a stronger relationship with the brand and lead to purchase.

A deeper understanding of customers gives brands a chance to make better product recommendations, send offers on channels that customers enjoy interacting on, and respond to feedback faster than ever.

This access to first-party data is a newer luxury in retail and a requirement for D2C brands that want to keep up with their evolving customer base.

Break down silos to personalize CX

The modern consumer has an endless number of devices and sales channels at their disposal. Keeping track of their preferences and offering a personalized customer experience across each touchpoint keeps CPG marketers up at night—but is essential. Reaching this ideal requires communication and collaboration between teams to eliminate silos and gain access to first-party data.

At its core, first-party data is about a two-way value exchange. The brand gains the ability to deliver a better customer experience and conduct effective marketing, while the customer gains useful information, assistance, and offers. It benefits both sides equally, which is why there’s such a focus on data acquisition in the D2C retail arena.

Ultimately, CPG marketers have a shared goal: improve the way they personalize CX for their shoppers. But they must start by meeting consumers where they really are.

No more assumptions or extrapolations based on incomplete data from resellers. First-party data is the only way to tap into real motivations and preferences that are moving the needle for consumers.

The endgame of these D2C personalization efforts is to build engagement and customer relationships that feel meaningful, personal, and authentic. And the data collected in the process offers an unparalleled opportunity to better understand and respond to customer needs and drive sustainable business growth.

Old direct-to-consumer marketing playbooks don’t work today.
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Angelica Valentine

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