Companies continue to fine-tune process
ering a valuable use for all the seemingly useless online muttering: market research.
The result is that whenever folks press the “like” button to give their seal of approval for a particular company’s page or make a comment on how much they like the leather boots they just bought, they’re helping everyone from independentlyowned small shops to the nation’s biggest retailers make decisions about what products to stock up on, what to play up on the sales floor and what promotions to offer online.
For the first time this year, one of Macy’s Inc.’s apparel buyers suggested the company solicit feedback on Facebook on which colors it should stock for “Else” brand jeans in the fall ahead of the holiday shopping season. Several weeks later, with about 2,500 “likes” and 750 comments, “Very Vivid” colors in bright blue, orange and red were declared the victor over softer shades such as baby pink and baby blue.
The company, which has more than 9 million “likes” on Facebook, followed up with another poll in July on whether it should carry a “Kensie” brand dress in a bird or floral print.
About 4,000 people issued their verdicts within 48 hours, and the department store plans to carry the floral print this February.
Rather than simply using social media to tout promotions and new products, companies are just now realizing the value of making customers feel as though they’re part of the decision making process, said Jennifer Kasper, who heads digital media at Macy’s. In addition to making customers feel like insiders, she said it helps businesses better tailor their offers as well.
Matt Cronin, a founding partner of Web Liquid Group, a digital marketing agency, agreed that companies are still in the early stages of figuring out how to put their social media profiles to use. Until now, he noted that social media strategies have primarily been about capturing as many followers or fans as possible without really knowing where to go from there.
One hurdle for major retailers is that it’s difficult to take the information they learn online and put it to use while the trends are still relevant,