By Matt Pigott - January 25th, 2016

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Things are heating up in the realm of personalized marketing.

Moving into 2016, brands know that the next stage in building promising customer relationships, and ensuring repeat business, is to get closer to the customer. That means drilling down into brand-generated content and volunteered consumer data to to get a finely-tuned analysis of your customer relationship. Adidas is one company stepping up to the plate and swinging for more meaningful relationships with its customers. But in order to achieve this, it has had to reappraise the way it handles data and make some changes.

Until recently, Adidas had a problem shared by most major companies–siloed data. Customer information is less useful in improving business efficiencies and outcomes when it is stuck in separate places. Any great chef or chemist knows that no matter the the quality of the ingredients, they can cause magic or mayhem depending on how they’re combined. Adidas had plenty of silos—great pools of information on customer behavior online and off—that were largely unusable because they were separate. The company therefore needed to find a way to consolidate these pools and, in so doing, make them greater than the sum of their parts.

With the help of Neo Technologies and the implementation of graph databases, Adidas is now on a fast track toward building more relevant relationships with its customers. But how, exactly?

First up, its data silos needed to be identified. By categorization they were: Master, Content, Consumer, Product, Social, and Big Data. Complicating matters, these separate sets underpinned the foundations of a host of other content systems including Retail, Corporate, eCommerce and Product Marketing, along with Wholesale and Customer Relations Management. Throw into the mix the company’s wide ranging brand assets such as sports celebrities, with interconnected relationships and subsequent consumer transactions taking place on a global platform, and it’s clear why Adidas, and similarly other multinational companies, are keen to find new ways to consolidate the information they have.

What does this consolidation achieve? Apart from the obvious point of saving time and money, and boosting sales efficiencies, it’s also a huge step in the direction of fostering healthier consumer relationships. By being relevant and timely, even to the point of making enhanced real-time suggestions at point of browsing and point of sale, customer interest in a brand’s communication is likely to be piqued as opposed to dismissed.

This is a major part of Adidas’s new five-year brand strategy, called “creating the new”. By investing in eCommerce and brand desirability, Adidas are looking to increase sales with an omnichannel and customization-focused approach. They’ll also prioritize growing customer-bases in six key cities, as well as in getting more customers involved through heightened advocacy and collaboration efforts. 

Most brands are still guilty of having generic content on their websites, a singular message or group of messages for a homogenous audience. The trouble with this is that so many potential customers slip through the net because the brand message hasn’t been tailored to their needs. It’s the sort of disconnect that’s frustrating for both brands and consumers, and became a pain point that Adidas is keen to resolve.

The solution then, at least in principle, was fairly simple: by using a ‘shared metadata service’ with, as Senior Project Manager Sokratis Kartelias described: ‘a common and controlled vocabulary that enables searchability of content’, the most compelling, relevant and relatable content can reach the right consumers. By processing consumers’ responses through a graph database, they can constantly improve and update their personalization to be as relevant as possible. Put another way: information is only as good as what you do with it; it’s the intelligent processing of that information that leads to true insights. In this case, good data begets more good data, and the relationships between these bits of categorized information (or nodes) in turn enhances the brand-customer relationship.

With accurate profiles cross-referenced with brand content, brands like Adidas are able to make ever-improving suggestions to their increasingly engaged customers. By consolidating siloed data and driving it through graph databases, by May 2015, Adidas’s customer data was organized collectively into two-million nodes with ten million relationships between those nodes. By taking a new approach to its data reserves, the company has moved away from atomistic snapshots of information to a holistic, interconnected approach, which marks the beginning of a new phase in true personalization.

Interested in personalization? This is the key topic of the upcoming Incite Summit: West, San Francisco May 17th and 18th.  

The Incite Marketing Summit: West 2016

May 2016, San Francisco

The Incite Summit: West is the USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Taking place in San Francisco on 18th and 19th of May, we will bring together Chief Marketing Officers from major brands to debate one key issue. How you can get a more granular picture of your customer and then engage in "one-to-one marketing". We'll focus on perception, precision and personalization.

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