It’s almost the end of 2021 and what a year it’s been. Despite the pandemic disrupting daily life again and again, we have continued to work incredibly hard, providing our clients with our market-leading data products and insight services, and we have seen some excellent results. Here’s a rundown of this year’s significant events and activities.

This year’s highlights

We have welcomed 82 new customers to REaD, providing thousands of data cleanses, customer enhancements and direct marketing campaigns.  These include some household brands such as Tesco, Joules, Carnival Cruises, and Animal Friends, as well as many other companies across the many different market sectors we serve.

We want to thank all our new customers and repeat customers (over 300 of you) for choosing REaD Group as your Data Insight, Enhancement, and trusted Campaign provider. We have delivered, on average, 2.5 times ROI target on multi-channel campaigns, with our data cleaning services saving customers, routinely, over £60,000 per campaign from mailing incorrect, deceased or gone-away records.

Response rates on campaigns have shown an increase of over 275% of response rate target with a 50% increase in revenue for our customers. We’ve also created some fantastic life-changing campaigns this year (and even planted 42 trees as a result of out Green Paper).

Our top 5 most used services this year:
  1. Data cleaning with GAS and TBR
  2. Direct Mail Data, Execution and Planning
  3. Data management with REaD Online
  4. Single customer view
  5. Customer insight and segmentation

Product updates 

Throughout the year we’ve continuously worked on our products and services to deliver the best possible experience for our customers. Here are just a few of the changes we’ve made.

REaD Enhance: We are imputing data across our REaD Enhance product, our solution for enhancing customer data. This allows the users to gain more value from the product for customer insight, profiling, and data modelling.

Data from social: We are collecting more and more data via social listening platforms that offer clients specific, relevant and timely indicators, giving customers the opportunity to reach more customers.

Pet Data: From age, occupation, income, presence of kids, outdoor space, and local area, we understand pet owners. We are collecting data to understand the profiles of dog owners, cat owners and both, even down to brands of food they buy, to provide detailed insights at a local or national level.

Home Movers: We have more accurate home mover predictions which take into account the local geography, the property size, type and value, and even the conveyancer.

The Cube: We have created a new database, enabling faster loading and aggregation of data, creating more frequent product releases in 2022.  Plus, new B2B data will be available via our REaD Online platform in January 2022.

Compliance

We are proud to report that we are still the most trusted data organisation in the UK!  This year we had our regular ISO audit with the auditor seeing: ‘Positive evidence of continual improvement to REaD’s security procedures’, and all planned security objectives achieved.

Data Protection Office 

The DPO team have successfully managed, logged, and recorded almost 11,550 DPO enquiries this year without any delays or adverse effects (based on nearly 200m pieces of direct mail sent by REaD’s clients in 2021).

Online Permission Library

Our Online Permission Library continues to receive great feedback from clients. In 2021, we added 33 new clients and conducted 23 demos. At present, we have 101 clients logged as users of the platform.

SAR Tool 

This year our Subject Access Reporting (SAR) tool was built and delivered, enabling better, more accurate and quicker search functionality for data protection enquiries.

Due Diligence

Several new policies and procedures were set up and distributed to contributors to ensure a continual compliance of data supplied to REaD.

What we’ve learned and our predictions for 2022

So what can we expect for the year ahead? We know consumers are expecting brands to understand their needs more and more and they will expect brands to close the ‘experience gap’ even further. Data will play a huge role in the growth of these brands and is an essential piece of the puzzle in helping them to understand consumers’ behaviours, mindsets and attitudes. The focus is shifting to accessibility and actionable insights to ensure meaningful and valuable personalisation that will create lifelong customers.

What other trends can we expect for next year? Here are our predictions for the top six trends in marketing for 2022.

Trend 1: Faster progression towards multi-channel comms

Multi-channel comms is changing, and teams are now looking at data to be used across all channels with the same profiling, models and selections being applied where the permissions allow it.

Trend 2: Customer decision-making driven by sustainability and/or diversity

There is a lot of research, including the DMA’s recent Customer Engagement:  Consumer Mindset in Acquisition research, that shows that diversity and sustainability are becoming more important  to consumers when deciding which brands to buy from. With a higher profile after COP26, younger audiences are increasingly engaging with green concerns and consumers are demanding that representation is recognised in advertising.

Trend 3: More direct-to-consumer comms and sales from brands in retail

One thing that accelerated during lockdown is some brands engaging directly with consumers rather than relying on their retail estate or sales partners. Retailers created a direct-to-consumer offering quickly and efficiently, and the outcome: a new audience who are loyal to the brand.

Trend 4: More intermediaries in other sectors

Many household brand names in insurance and utilities have almost stopped recruiting customers directly because they rely so heavily on the intermediaries to provide their new customers. Expect to see other sectors disrupted in 2022, such as train travel and the financial services.

Trend 5: Greater demand for improved customer service post-pandemic through automation and AI

The challenge for many brands will be how to fund extra staff after cutting them previously. It is possible that the drive for automation, more realistic chat functionality and AI-based solutions will be the solution.

Trend 6: Finding a balance between localism and impatient nation

While the pandemic revitalised shopping local resulting in a healthier high street, we also invested more in the need to get products delivered to our door as quickly as possible. Together, that creates a very interesting dynamic, a confluence of fast and slow shopping – it will be interesting to follow how the two develop over the next twelve months.

Charitable support

This year, we’ve raised a fantastic amount for our chosen charity, CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) which takes a stand against suicide. By riding bikes, running miles and baking amazing cakes and savoury goods, we’ve raised more than £16,000!

Onwards to 2022…

Year on year, we work hard to provide the best possible service to our customers by offering the most compliant, quality data available. Next year we’ll be continuing to offer the same quality service with the same personal approach. We look forward to working with you again and in the meantime, we wish you a very Happy Holidays.

How to engage consumers this festive season

While Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year (according to Andy Williams), it is also the most important time of the year for retail brands.

But after a rollercoaster couple of years, and with 2021 the year in which COVID-19 finally killed off some of our most-loved brands, what’s in store for retailers this festive season? We’ve taken a look at some of the key statistics and trends in retail shopping habits and furnished you with tips and tools to help you capitalise on these trends and make the most of the upcoming festive period.

Retail ho ho’s no no’s

The last two years have hit the retail industry incredibly hard. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, retailers have had a challenging time, with stores closed, staff furloughed and supply chain issues. At the same time, multiple lockdowns caused a significant shift away from the high street to e-commerce.

Research from the ONS, published earlier this year, revealed the extent of the changes wrought on the retail sector: in 2020, total retail sales volumes fell by 1.9% compared with 2019, the largest annual fall on record. However online sales rose to a record high of 33.9% as a share of all retail spending, the highest growth seen for 13 years, according to e-tail association IMRG.

More than 8,700 British chain stores closed in the first half of 2021 and while some brand names have disappeared from the high street forever (goodbye Topshop, Debenhams and Thorntons), some brands – especially those with a strong e-commerce presence – have thrived, especially the “Big Four” supermarkets, Amazon, Marks and Spencer and Boots, according to Statista.

Where and how are consumers spending?

But it looks like consumers are planning to buck this trend in 2021: Statista research shows that in the 2021 holiday season, the average Christmas spending on gifts in the UK was higher compared to the previous two years. UK consumers were expected to spend the most on consumer electronics, at around £51 in 2021, compared to £49.20 in 2020. Compared to the previous year, per capita spend on clothing and footwear saw an increase in 2021 going from £26.94 to £38.79, although this is still far below the levels observed in the pre-pandemic period.

Research from Canopy Media shows that the pandemic also affected how people shopped for gifts in 2020. The number buying online grew to 85%, up from 78% in 2019, while, due to a mix of store closures and consumer concern, the number shopping in-store dropped from 77% in 2019 to 58% in 2020.

When are consumers shopping?

New research from Kantar’s GB Target Group Index (TGI) consumer data has found that 21% of adults (over 11 million people) are planning to start their present purchasing in November. Kantar also found that, amongst the November Christmas shoppers, 44% of them (5 million people) buy Christmas presents for six or more people. November Christmas shoppers can also prove to be a lucrative group in their gift purchases: the data shows that well over half of them (55%) claim to usually spend £200 or more on Christmas gifts, compared to just 37% of those who start their Christmas shopping in December. This means that now is a key time to engage consumers with products and services that will be gifted during the festive season.

Christmas shopping trends

Social media

The likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and Pinterest account for  approximately 60% of all Gen Z and Millennial holiday purchases.

Sustainability

Nearly 70% of Gen Z and Millennials are actively looking to engage with brands both online and in-store that have a clear sustainable mission. Gen X is not far behind, with 59% seeking out ethical brands. For more on Green consumers view our Green Paper. 

Pet preferences

After the ‘pandemic puppy’ boom, it will come as no surprise that 64% of pet owners have said they will be buying presents for their furry friends. For more pet specific marketing data visit our page.

Shopping the sales

In 2020, consumers used incentives like Black Friday (39%), Cyber Monday (24%) and Amazon Prime Day to bag their bargains. In 2021, Klarna expects that figure to increase to 72% of shoppers who will rely heavily on similar incentives, seasonal sales and offers to stretch their budgets.

Gifting

81% of shoppers expect to buy for family, while nearly half plan to purchase gifts for friends (44%). 34% will shop for their significant other, while a mere 7% plan to shop for work colleagues.

Self-care

43% of Millennials and 38% of Gen Z plan to buy gifts from their wish lists for themselves if they don’t receive them from others, up from last holiday season, when 41% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Z said they purchased gifts for themselves.

Wisdom of the silver surfers

55% of Baby Boomers are more inclined to forgo participating in holiday sales altogether, but Klarna’s silver surfers are still savvier than most. Older Klarna shoppers are much more likely to take advantage of the holiday deals than the
average Joe, with only 43% of Klarna Baby Boomers saying they won’t shop sales.

How we spend it

While we’re feeling more excited about the first ‘normal’ Christmas since 2019, a number of factors are stretching the purse strings: personal finances are under pressure, unemployment and inflation are both on the rise; and cost of living is expected to go up in 2022. New research from VoucherCodes and GlobalData has found that, while consumers feel stretched financially they also want to make this Christmas extra special. As a consequence, many admit to being more inclined to rely on loans than their earnings to finance Christmas gift spending this year. In 2020, consumers expected to finance 75% of their Christmas gift spending via their earnings, compared to 62% in 2021. This year, people anticipate relying on credit cards, store cards, loans, and payday loans more than in 2020.

Data – your helpful Christmas elf

It is no secret that early to mid-November is the best time for direct mail (DM) campaigns during the festive period. And with the right data at their disposal, brands can further optimise their campaigns to reach the right consumer at the right time. And as we’ve seen, bricks and mortar is far from being obsolete: with the right planning and analysis of customer data, brands can drive footfall and traffic over typically quieter times with incentives or offers. With more than 44% of consumers purchasing presents for six people or more, they’ll be keen to make the most of incentives and sales.

But not only that, retailers need to ensure they are embracing a more omnichannel model. Klarna’s omnichannel research found that retailers’ main motivation when it comes to developing a more omnichannel approach is to better understand customers, but other factors also came into play.

Build a winning strategy

Consumers’ buying habits are changing, making it an optimal time to tap into new opportunities. Brands must take the insights from the past year and use them to build a winning strategy. Getting personal with consumers with tailored, relevant and timely communications and marketing will not only drive engagement but also optimise return on investment (ROI) and long-term value (LTV).

With access to a data asset repository of multiple, trusted sources of consumer data, brands can build an accurate, in-depth, and insightful view of the consumer population in the UK. By understanding who consumers live with, what they earn and spend, how they transact and what their hobbies are, for example, they can gain huge customer insight, enrich their marketing comms, build profiles and personas and select the appropriate recipients for their campaign.