Our Thinking

They Like You, They Really Like You! How Product Affinity Boosts Customer Retention

By Ed Higdon. Posted in Insight

August 20, 2014

Here’s an obvious statement: people who like scarves buy scarves. Here’s one more: people who like scarves want to know more about scarves – not, for example, kitchen supplies.

That doesn’t seem like a very difficult concept, yet retailers across the country fail to recognize how they can use product affinity to their advantage.

“Product affinity” refers to what customers like. By understanding your individual customers’ affinities, you can stay relevant in their lives by offering it to them when they want it. This may sound simple, but it requires loads of Big Data organization and customer profiling—who buys what, when they buy it and how often they come back for more.

If you understand what people enjoy, you can increase customer retention and customer loyalty by huge margins without doubling your marketing budget.

Product affinity in the real world

One proven example of product affinity is online book giant Amazon.com. Whenever you buy a book from Amazon, they’ll immediately offer up another, prompting you with a line like, “Others who bought this book also bought…” This is an immediate push towards what they understand to be your preference in reading: if you like mysteries, why not buy this other acclaimed mystery novel?

And it works for all parties involved. Customers receive book recommendations from people who appreciate their taste, authors see rewards with sales from an expanding fan base, and Amazon profits all the way to the bank.

Discover your business

Product affinity isn’t just a money-maker, though—it can also teach you about your own business. Take, for example, one fashion retailer that mainly sold men’s suits. They analyzed their numbers and were surprised to discover that the same people who were buying suits were buying women’s dresses. This didn’t compute at first—until they realized that wives must have been buying suits for their husbands.

All of a sudden, this company got a firmer grasp of their top purchasers, and could give them more of what they want. They revamped their catalogues to focus on their findings, rather than sending out a mass catalogue containing only men’s apparel.

Give the people what they want

You can also use this information to tailor emails to devoted customers. In an emailed list of five products, one should always be a featured product, one should be a previously bought item, and the rest should be items that you’ve determined they actually care about but may not have bought yet.

To make a second obvious statement: don’t show them things they aren’t interested in. You’re liable to turn your customers off your entire brand that way.

Understanding individuals’ product affinity can be the greatest tool you unlock. It can help you to understand your customer base and target your offerings in store, catalogues and online specifically to your top clients – and see more sales from them. The principles of product affinity are simple and sound: understand what your audience is interested in and give it to them.

DO YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER STRATEGY?

Focus on customers who are most likely to respond. A decile scoring system can tell you which customers will buy again.