Given the new-normal’s rapidly shifting consumer behavior, marketing playbooks have been upended. That’s particularly true with anything location-based. Local is where physical shopping happens… and that’s the segment of consumer spending that’s been transformed the most.
As a result, local businesses that adapt to that moving target have the greatest chances of survival. That statement also applies to multi-location brands, where exemplars include Target and Walmart. They’ve been the most nimble and tech adoptive, which has tangible financial results.
This adaptability includes things like curbside pickup in the retail realm; and mobile order-ahead in QSR. As we’ve examined, we’ve entered the order-ahead era. This technology has been inching forward for years, but now catapults forward due to its alignment with the needs of the time.
To better define and identify this shifting consumer behavior, GroundTruth has added new profiles to its audience segmentation engine. Working first with Walmart locations, it has mapped 2,900 curbside pickup zones in its parking lots. This lets it identify curbside customers via device ID.
Groundtruth accomplishes this with its Bluprints technology. At a high level, it maps polygons that represent relevant zones for behavioral tracking. When it has the necessary GPS precision, this means that it can differentiate between curbside pickups and regular store visits — a key distinction.
As background, consumer profiles have been tracked by Groundtruth and others for years, also known as audience targeting. This lets advertisers identify target groups such as soccer moms, sports fans, and business travelers, as a function of where they go. Once identified, they can retarget ads accordingly.
For example, brands can send targeted messaging to audiences that have engaged in specific behaviors in the past (think: going to a baseball game). This comes with the basic psychological and statistical principle that past behavior is a strong indicator of future action — a tenet of audience targeting.
The point in GroundTruth’s most recent initiative is to apply that same principle to the emerging consumer segment of curbside-pickup loyalists. Knowing who these customers are in an aggregate and privacy-friendly manner will be valuable for retailers that are fighting for an edge.
Sign of the Times
These tactics become more relevant in the current environment because consumer spending is depressed among some segments, due to recessionary economics. Identifying consumers who are still spending — regardless of their affinity for curbside pickup — can be valuable intel for any retailer.
For Walmart specifically, this will be valuable data to market its new Walmart+ service. Sort of a competitor to Amazon Prime, it charges $98 per year for free same-day delivery of orders over $35. But it also has the additional advantage of local stores, where Walmart+ offers discounts on pickup orders.
But it won’t end with Walmart. Groundtruth is in the process of expanding the initiative to identify curbside pickup loyalists at other retailers that offer it at scale, including Target and Kroger. This follows its Delivery Zones product — an offshoot of Blueprints that tracks restaurant demand.
The bottom line is that the game has changed. The players who change with it will have an edge in local commerce’s next normal. Nearer term, this technology could have an impact during the impending holiday season. The stakes will be higher this year, due to a local business survival imperative.