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Are retail communications out of sync with consumers?

Jan 18, 2023

A survey from Emarsys finds retailers failing to align with consumers when it comes to when, how and what they want to hear.

When it comes to frequency, the survey found 61 percent of retailers surveyed believe that their customers want to hear from them multiple times a week. Only 31 percent of consumers agree with that schedule, however, with the majority preferring contact once a week or less.

An analysis of 13,836 email subscribers of eight major apparel retailers by Return Path in 2015 found expected read rates decreased as send frequency increased. Customers could still be expected to read every fifth email (0.21) at a five times a week send frequency, and every seventh email (0.15) at a seven times a week send frequency. On the flip side, customer complaints increased rapidly when email frequency exceeded five messages per week.

Emarsys said in a press release that its research showed that, beyond frequency, retailers were equally concerned about “understanding exactly what customers want to hear from them, and where they want to hear about it.”

On the “where” question, Emarsys’ survey found that 45 percent of consumers would still like to hear about upcoming sales in-store, while a higher percentage, 51 percent, preferred to hear about upcoming sales via email and on social media (44 percent). For new product announcements, however, in-store (46.7 percent) topped the list of preferred channels, followed by social media (46.3 percent) and email (45 percent).

An Alliance Data study from 2019 found 69 percent of consumers want control of the frequency of communications from brands/retailers and 63 percent want to control the content. However, only 10 percent and 24 percent of brands/retailers, respectively, were delivering that need.

An eMarketer study from 2019 found marketers challenged in executing and analyzing cross-channel campaigns, particularly when it came to integrating data and actions across all the media, devices and buying platforms involved. The report stated, “It’s impossible to know how often audiences have been reached or to manage any particular frequency or cadence of messaging across platforms.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are retailers guilty of too frequent and often too irrelevant communications to consumers? What solutions do you see and what challenges does omnichannel messaging add?


“Connecting with an ever-changing audience and fashion trends is a minute-to-minute job that is almost impossible to juggle.”


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