Use Data and Empathy to Personalize Shopping Experiences

By Sally Lyons Wyatt

When was the last time you had a positive grocery shopping experience that really stood out to you? What made it stand out?

The best shopping experience for me recently stood out because of its creativity and convenience. Like most families, we are crazy busy and have fallen into the pattern of cooking mostly the same meals every week because it’s easy. We would love to switch it up sometimes, but the amount of information available on meal planning can be overwhelming and, yes, time-consuming.

I went to the store a few weeks ago armed with the typical list of my family’s weekly grocery items. One of my favorite areas in the store now is the various recipe signs. All of the fresh ingredients needed to make different dishes are on display directly below the signs – so I can grab what I need right there and snap a pic of the recipe. It’s always nice to discover a new dish and be able to get all the ingredients for it in a single place in the store.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) retailers and manufacturers must be able to thoroughly understand their shoppers in order to provide these types of experiences. Data is one of the most powerful tools for understanding consumer desires and behaviors, but it must be paired with customer empathy – identifying and helping solve consumers’ day-to-day challenges. For example, the ongoing challenge most people have of not knowing what to have for dinner that night could be used as an opportunity to create a more customized shopping experience. By leveraging the vast amount of available data, including loyalty card data, and truly understanding the consumer, CPG retailers and manufacturers can give shoppers an experience that feels more like their own.

Below are three ways retailers and manufacturers can personalize experiences and activate customers.

1. Tailoring Assortment – Retailers can use consumer profiles and information on their shopping tendencies to better tailor store assortment and strategically drive in-store consumer activation. Store-level demographics provide insights into products its shoppers are more likely to buy and can help plan more unique assortments to meet the needs of their buyers.

For better ROI, in-store personalization efforts should be complemented by messaging in the media platforms their shoppers consume. CPG marketers can improve their media impact and drive significantly more sales by shifting their media objectives from maximum exposure to maximum impact. It starts with more precise audience targeting using data.

2. Driving Awareness with Customized Campaigns – Increased awareness drives sales growth when campaigns are more customized for a brand or store’s target customers. A recent campaign by a salad dressing company specifically targeted cooks who love to discover new recipes and flavors. The campaign strategically used various in-store and online media levers to reach that target, which ultimately led to a 10.8% total sales uplift, as well as +3.4% penetration, +5.6% occasions and +1.5% dollars per occasion.

3. Using Purchase-Based Targeting for Personalization – Brands can achieve up to four times incremental campaign uplift by using purchase-based targeting to determine exactly who should be reached compared to the results they would see using demographic targeting. A deeper understanding of consumer purchasing behavior unlocks personalization ideas that apply to marketing messaging, positioning, promotions, line extensions and more.

As always, strong measurement capabilities are vital to determining ROI. Ask these questions to know if your personalization efforts are working: 

  • Did the action impact consumer behavior?
  • Did it result in a sale?
  • Did it drive a trip?

If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions, you’re on the right track. If you want to answer yes to all three, learn more by viewing my “Atomization of Personalization” webinar or contact me at

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