Post COVID is Personal

Cartoon rendition of a woman pushing a grocery cart, bubbles above her contain images of several graphs, no wheat symbol and green symbol

Originally published in the March/April 2021 Winsight Grocery Business Magazine: Getting to Know You

As retailers and their customers settle into post-COVID habits, personalization will be a part of the “new normal,” says Brian Ross, president of Precima, the customer-marketing software group that is now a part of NielsenIQ.

“In many ways, personalization will take on increasing importance through COVID and in a post-COVID scenario— and importantly, in the stages in between,” Ross says. “The primary reason for this is that personalization is all about being relevant to consumers and changing needs and habits of the consumer. It’s also about delivering the most relevant engagement to each and every customer, one customer at a time.”

After experiencing shopper stock-up and store visit reductions associated with the pandemic, Ross recommends that retailers should expect consumer behavior to continue to change, demonstrating the need to first understand how consumers are changing and continuously refine personalization to be most relevant.

One COVID change expected to take root in grocery retail is a reduction in SKUs, and “personalization can be a key enabler for that change,” Ross adds.

“For example, if a retailer decides to discontinue a specific item as a result of diminishing sales, it’s critical to understand which customers were buying and were brand-loyal to those items,” he says. “This will help the retailer manage the transition to the new assortment. Specifically, as retailers rationalize their assortment, they need to identify core consumers of those discontinued items and proactively suggest alternatives and relevant substitutes of those items to these customers, and to ensure to help manage this change while still meeting the needs of customers, even with a reduced assortment.”