The Best Way to Influence the Buying Decision? Get Personal!

In 1985, preparing to host a party was easy. You put down your Rubik’s Cube, threw on a Cosby sweater, and headed for the grocery store with your shopping list. More than 30 years later, you still have guests to feed, but the options for how you pull it off seem endless. You can cook, get take-out, call a caterer, order a meal kit online … you can even rent a food truck. This didn’t happen by accident. The retail grocery and food service industries consciously evolved their offerings to adapt to the changing tastes of the dining public. What has been their key to success? Personalization.

Many of us are not the diners we were in the past. Gone are the days when “a good meal” consisted of meat and potatoes. Our diets and preferences have become more complex, with an increased focus on fresh ingredients, authentic preparations, and responsible sourcing. In short, food that feels as good as it tastes. Our lifestyles have also changed the way we interact with the food industry. We now demand greater convenience, more options, and an experience driven by how we consume—rather than having to conform to a single process.

Retailers have addressed this maturing market with a two-steps-ahead approach to audience engagement that not only accommodates what we want, but also attempts to anticipate our needs before we even know they exist. Rather than dreaming up promotions and hoping for the best, companies are using research to gain valuable insights that uncover new behaviors, desires, and trends. This intelligence empowers them to develop a targeted approach to consumer outreach for a more personalized experience, which leads to more business.

An example of how food service decision makers are getting to know us better is Acosta’s The Why? Behind The DineTM survey, which states that “grocery shoppers lean on different tools depending on what can best suit their need at that very moment. For example, 28% of shoppers use email, 20% of shoppers use social networking, 19% use text messaging, and 11% use mobile websites when they research what they are going to put in their cart.” Statistics like these enable retailers to refine their communication strategies and look to innovative in technology to ensure that they’re delivering the right content to the right audience through the right channels. Restaurants are also leveraging surveys and industry trend reports to align their messaging with how diners choose where they eat. This is a critical marketing approach for eateries, since their fates are often decided before a consumer even tries the product.

Regardless of the industry, today’s customer expects a personal touch when considering their decision of what to buy and where to buy it. While it may take additional time, effort, and resources to develop a more personalized marketing strategy, embracing the science behind what makes your audience tick will help you deliver exactly what they want—before they even have a chance to ask.

This article was originally published at, by author Melissa Torella.

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