What did you get for Christmas?

It isn’t only glass shattering Mariah Carey that wants you for Christmas – with all those bits and bobs we buy in the silly season, every brand we interact with is vying for our attention and with purse strings and wallet clips tight, marketers need to keep hold of as many of us as humanly possible as 2023 shapes up to be yet another annus horribilis.

What then is the holy engagement grail or elixir of retention if we were lucky enough to get some new customers for Christmas and to keep the ones we already have? Like any good relationship there is no exacting science; people are people and will always behave in unexpected ways. What I can tell you though is never second guess what you think they might do or want – you must understand their psychology (what makes them tick?) and not rely on assumptions – we’re all human, and individuals, after all.

There is a stark reality to behold as well, that what we marketers think are important drivers of loyalty is out of kilter with what we, as customers really think. The current cost of living squeeze is shining an even more enormous spot-light on this; marketers need to take note.

According to the SAS Experience Report 2030¹ conducted in late 2019, even before the pandemic, customers rated high-quality products and low cost as the two top drivers for winning loyalty. Once you’ve achieved that then we all love (and expect) a good loyalty programme with incentives, washed down by some high-quality customer service. If you haven’t been aware of the Lidl and Aldi phenomenon then I’ll assume you’ve been trapped under a stone for quite some time but what is key to this is that in consumer’s minds product, price, and promotion and place, are not separate or indistinct things – they come as a package.


SAS found, however, that marketers see the world quite differently; their top 4 loyalty drivers that they think customers want are high-quality customer service (which consumers put fourth), high-quality products (somewhere in the ballpark), consistency of response across channels and personalised product offers and communications which itself is interesting as consumers didn’t even place personalisation in their top 10 of loyalty drivers – they simply expect it.

So how can you hit the high notes in 2023 – Mariah’s highest note is A₅ by the way* – to keep your customers happy and coming back, and exactly which ones should they be?

When SAS asked consumers where brands fall short, they covered practically every customer-facing department, however, falling short on loyalty programmes and incentives really stood out. These are critical CX touchpoints for acquiring personal information through first-party data. More than 80% of consumers say they are willing to share personal information with a brand if they get something of value, such as rewards or discounts, however, lack of privacy can erode trust if consumers don’t feel they have control over what brands do with their data and privacy².

“Privacy and performance don’t need to be at odds with each other. If marketers can make experiences for their customers Meaningful, Manageable and Memorable – this all adds up to giving customers a feeling of control.”

Jonny Pretheroe, Head of Privacy Insights for Europe, Google

So how can you provide meaningful value exchange so that customers see the worth in the information collected? It starts at quite a basic level. If a consumer bought Christmas cards from its chosen charity online, then nearer to Christmas popped into their local high street branch of the same charity to top up on last-minute cards or extra stocking fillers, then later that week saw a TV advert appealing for donations and felt compelled to give; they have a basic need and expectation that you as the recipient of all their money whether online, by text or instore will know it came from the same person. Surely, it’s not a big thing to ask or demand of a brand but increasingly hybridisation between offline and online is falling short of customer expectations. More than half of customers (56%) today say brands aren’t very good at delivering a seamless experience across digital (e.g. social, email, mobile, website) and physical (e.g. in-store, call centre, live chat). And fewer than 1 in 5 marketers say their hybrid models are mature².


A major key to unlocking this is the deployment of a CDP (a customer data platform) providing marketers with a ‘single view’ of customers through the collection of data from a number of sources, segmentation and orchestration; all the ingredients for the ‘seamless experience’ recipe that consumers expect.

The other thing on marketer’s future Christmas lists should be AI; for customers it can serve up better, more rewarding experiences and for marketers, it can solve attribution uncovering frequent customer journeys and tying CX actions to business outcomes. Now doesn’t that sound dreamy?

Marketers should seek to exploit data to its fullest potential; your customers will thank you for it and your CFO will be happy with how your budget consequently performs. Asking the data instantly shifts the dial for both short and long-term KPI’s across acquisition and conversion, so that retention of customers can be achieved. And remember, privacy and performance can work together but these need to be set up and managed properly for success.

Edit, and our sister consultancy Join the Dots, are already helping some of the world’s largest brands in major commercial sectors adapt to change by adopting new technology to deliver hyper-personalised customer experiences and revenue growth, driven by intelligent data.

We identify relevant datapoints along the customer journey, unify them, then use segmentation and data science to translate them into easy actionable insights. This informs outcome driven marketing strategy and campaigning which, in turn, improves the customer experience and increases loyalty. We can also help ensure that the newest and most up-to-date privacy principles are presented to consumers so they feel reassured that they are in control of how their data is used. The individual’s direct involvement in this means they manage the communication they want to receive via a clear and transparent understanding of the value to be gained.

By: Rachel Piggott – Strategist at EDIT Salocin/Join the Dots

1 SAS Experience 2030 | SAS

2 Cracking Tomorrow’s CX Code – CMO Council Report

*Mariah Carey’s vocal range in ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ spans from the note of G₃ to the high note of A₅

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