*This article was originally published on August 13, 2020
“Know your customer”—it sounds so simple. After all, having an understanding of your customer base is a basic tenant of any growth strategy for retail, experiential, and hospitality brands. However, there are key sales channels vital for optimal growth that have historically kept brands in the dark about the final end user. Most notable is the B2B sales channel. For many B2B gift card programs, the information available is often only about total sales, and program managers are left in the dark about important details concerning their actual customers.
While a B2B program often provides a general framework for their end users, there’s very little that a brand actually knows about how their card is performing among any audience subsets within these programs. This lack of insight is particularly challenging in a time when program managers are being asked to do progressively more with their B2B partners despite fleeting resources. Having access to user data that can inform smart decisions is more important than ever; even seemingly simple demographic information can help brands infer key consumer insights in order to create stronger B2B promotions and marketing materials.
Further, unprecedented and rapidly-shifting consumer trends make the need for access to timely data even more important. One of the biggest growth trends in the gift card industry is the rise of self-use gift cards, which have accelerated in popularity in recent months. This has far-reaching implications on marketing and retention efforts. When an end-user acquires a gift card, brands need to be aware that it may not be a gift, and therefore, access to end-user demographics is vital to the growth strategy of the brand as a whole.
Due to fast-paced shifts in consumer trends, it is essential that B2B programs respond to these changes in order to provide brands any and all data available. This open-sharing of data can help brands make the best decisions for program growth. By having access to specific end user data, brands can make better decisions regarding long-term strategy plans, while also working with their B2B partners to create fast-action strategy that can move the needle in a timely manner.
For example: Imagine managing the gift card program for a retail clothing store with a goal of increasing gift card sales, but not having the ability to create any consumer-facing promotions. One possible way to promote sales is by using product imagery on the gift cards. If you as a program manager know that 60% of purchasers live in the Northeast, 20% are in the Midwest, and 20% on the West Coast, you can feature products known to do better in cold-weather regions. By having this basic demographic data from your B2B program partner, you can make the most informed choice.
Having access to B2B program customer data can help brands capitalize on current consumer trends while getting creative in driving sales without an increased budget or any consumer-facing promotions.
It’s time brands ask for more from their B2B partners and it is vital that B2B programs answer the call.