How Personalization Gives a Big Edge to Small Brands
If you've traveled around Latin America or killed time browsing the shops at the Miami airport, there's a very good chance the name Cafe Britt rings a bell. You may even have bought some of its gourmet coffee or fine chocolates, which are among the finest products Costa Rica exports. But what you probably didn't think about as you sipped a cup of Tres Rios Valdivia or munched on an artisan-style macadamia cookie was just how tough it is for a niche brand like Cafe Britt to hold its own in a retail world rapidly shifting to a digital commerce model.
Cafe Britt has all the hallmarks of an international brand. It has 94 brick-and-mortar locations in eight countries, and because of its positioning in major airports across Latin America, Café Britt's products are known around the globe. However, even a well-established brand like Cafe Britt is challenged when going head to head against industry behemoths.
Companies like Nestlé, Starbucks and Gevalia (which is itself just one of many coffee brands owned by Kraft) have deep pockets, efficient supply chains and countless store shelves to distribute their products. Competing on a broad scale on the brick-and-mortar playing field just doesn't make sense for a company like Cafe Britt, as it could be outspent at every turn.
Online, however, the playing field is a little more level. The big companies still have the advantage when it comes to their marketing budgets, but Cafe Britt has a huge edge. As a relatively small brand on the global scale, it can be far more adaptable and maneuverable than the big guys. Huge companies aren't known for being nimble, and they tend to respond to consumer demand at a glacial pace.
If Café Britt couldn't outspend its competition, it could out-innovate them. To punch above its weight, Cafe Britt decided it was time to get personal.
Since its founding in 1985, Café Britt has always had a core customer base who both loved its products and believed in its fair-trade focused ethics. But as other brands began adopting those same customer relationships, Cafe Britt was at risk of losing that personal connection with its customers.
If Café Britt was going to redouble its e-commerce efforts to compete with the biggest gourmet coffee brands, it had to do something truly innovative. It needed to create an engaging experience that would not only make it easier for new customers to find the perfect gourmet coffees and treats they're looking for, but also remind existing customers of the products they always loved or would most likely love. Café Britt had to convince those customers to buy from it because it was there that they found exactly what they were looking for.
This brings us back to one-to-one personalization. The basic principle of it is easy enough to understand: an e-commerce site individually recognizes each customer, and the platform notes their preferences as they shop. Those preferences allow the site owner to showcase the products the shopper is most likely to be looking for - and most likely to purchase. As more is learned about the customer's interests and needs, the digital shopping experience becomes more relevant.
Cafe Britt needed something a little more potent than the increasingly ineffective approach of segmentation, however. It needed the next evolution, a truly one-to-one personalization solution that focuses on individual shoppers in real time, rather than relying on broadly targeted segments.
With this new approach to e-commerce, Cafe Britt can accurately anticipate the needs of individual visitors from the huge variety of countries and cultures it serves. The retailer responds to each shopper's real-time intent and presents the variety of chocolates and coffee that most closely match their individual preferences.
After incorporating one-to-one personalization within its digital shopping experiences, Cafe Britt began seeing a noticeable uptick in its conversion rate, which increased by over 18 percent. The retailer's average order size jumped 15 percent, which means more shoppers were willing to spend more money when they were connected with truly relevant merchandise. The lift wasn't limited to new visitors, either, with even established customers upping their orders thanks to one-to-one personalization.
Cafe Britt has unlocked a solution that's grown its digital business, increased its brand loyalty and given it an edge as it competes with the industry heavyweights online. Thanks to one-to-one personalization, Café Britt now has more elbowroom in the digital marketplace.
Kurt Heinemann is the chief marketing officer at Reflektion, a predictive analytics platform provider.
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Kurt serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of Reflektion, the artificial intelligence-driven customer engagement platform for top retailers and brands worldwide. Kurt is an innovative and dynamic marketing professional with a track record of success communicating a company’s unique value proposition to potential customers, partners and market influencers through strategic and creative means.