Staying Ahead of Aspirations: How to Show Your Shoppers Their Next Favorite Products

The word “aspiration” gets thrown around all the time in marketing-speak.

Some groups of customers get tagged as “aspirational” because they pursue upwardly mobile lifestyles. We even sort certain products into the “aspirational” category, because they imitate the clothing, technology and life experiences of people with haute couture taste.

In truth, though, every shopper is aspirational. Yep, that’s right — every single one.

Some of your customers aspire to create more comfortable lives for their families. Others aspire to take their pets on more exciting adventures. Still others aspire to leave the big city behind and spend a relaxing week in the great outdoors. And it’s easy to recommend the same old products to all these customers based on their existing tastes and interests.

How can you stay ahead of your customers’ evolving aspirations — and meet them at every step of their journeys with tools to build the lives they dream of?

To deliver that magic, you’re going to need an email diet that predicts shoppers’ next favorite products — the ones they don’t even know to ask for yet.

Aspirations don’t progress in a straight line — and that makes personalization tricky.

One of the biggest misconceptions about aspiration is that it follows a linear path: that once you define a customer according to their “persona,” you can predict the lifestyle they aspire to.

If that were true, then staying ahead of each customer’s aspirations would be a straightforward task. All you’d have to do is pre-program a journey for that customer, and keep recommending the products that correspond to the next stages of that journey.

But as we all know, personalization is never that simple. Customers’ lifestyles often turn on a dime — and their aspirations transform overnight.

Say, for example, that you’d assigned a “homemaker” persona to one of your customers. You’ve been showing her recommendations for home decor, fueling her aspirations to create a more luxurious home — until one day, she decides to reenter the workforce. Suddenly, she aspires to move up the corporate ladder by delivering impressive presentations in sharp business attire.

How do you stay ahead of this customer’s aspirations, and help her discover the products she needs to conquer her new workplace? The only way to avoid this dilemma is to move beyond conventional and next-step personalization.

To stay ahead of your customers’ aspirations, you need to understand why their tastes are changing.

Let’s take a closer look at the example of our upwardly mobile customer: the former homemaker who’s now working a nine-to-five job. From the instant her lifestyle changes, your conventional marketing algorithms will be thrown for a loop — casting up a semi-random showcase of popular products as they struggle to orient themselves around her brand-new tastes.

In those critical moments, you may very well lose her as a customer — because all of a sudden, you’ve become just another annoying spammer.

But none of this had to happen. If your software had understood why this customer’s tastes suddenly changed — or, better still, had been able to predict that change — then you’d already be one step ahead of her, ready to show her the crisp office attire she’ll need to impress her new bosses.

This might sound like a magical ability — but all it takes is a machine-learning solution that learns from more than just past purchases.

The latest personalization software takes a wide range of subtle signals from your customers and weaves all that data into a mathematical “canvas” of possible aspirational paths. This model enables the software to — in a sense — understand why this customer has been purchasing home-related products.

Using this canvas, your marketing tools can see ahead of this customers’ aspirations, and meet her on her first day at the office with recommendations for business suits, tasteful-yet-comfortable office shoes, and other products that support her new aspirations — whether she’s had time to shop for similar products or not.

When you show your customers their next favorite products, you help create magical moments of discovery.

It’s easy to make the excuse that most customers don’t have time to read marketing emails — but if that’s the case, then why did they sign up for your email list in the first place? Here’s the truth:

Every one of your customers wants to be swept off their feet by a magical moment today.

That magical moment could be something as small as discovering a jacket that looks exactly like one they’ve been dreaming of. Or it could be something as huge as receiving a special offer on a piece of jewelry they never thought they could afford.

The better you understand your customers’ aspirations, the better-equipped you are to sweep your customers off their feet, by serving those magical moments before they’d even thought to ask for them.



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