Data to me! – how brands can emancipate themselves

Brands today can no longer afford to manage their valuable customer data externally.

adidas Runtastic App ©adidas
adidas Runtastic App ©adidas

Adidas is a big hit. With its fitness application Runtastic, the company regularly ranks among the top ten apps with the most downloads in Germany. Fitness enthusiasts are willing to share their data with the sports company, which has been the owner of the application since 2015 and thus the manager of more than 100 million user data records. Just this summer Adidas discontinued the web version and has imposed even stronger branding on the remaining app – it was rebranded as “Adidas Running by Runtastic” in September. This is the next step toward connecting the fans even more with their own brand.

Added value in exchange for data

Adidas also keeps a close eye on its customers in other respects. The app’s added value makes users happy to provide information. To improve their training success, they not only provide the usual data, but also more sensitive material such as training times, height, weight and heart rate. This is a true gold mine for the data specialists from Herzogenaurach, which rewards the generosity of their community with exclusive access to special editions, events and with earlier insight into product innovations.

The Under Armour Record app even goes a step further, tracking not only sports and fitness activities, but also sleep times and nutrition. The brand then aggregates the very personal data in order to use it for tailor-made offers, advertising or customer loyalty campaigns.

Adidas competitor Nike is already keeping pace with its customers. In the Nike Run Club app, users can inform their friends about their current fitness goals, tag their shoes and store how many kilometers they have run with them. It is also used to observe the competition digitally, as competitors’ shoes can also be tagged using this feature and their service life precisely recorded.

Data sovereignty is of utmost importance

The competition between sports brands is more digital than ever. The brands are doing what market researcher Forrester suggested in its study “The Future of CX“: “Brands that own their values will break away from those that merely borrow them”. Consequentially, brands must become independent of the large data networks Google, Facebook and Amazon and manage their customer knowledge autonomously to be successful in the future. The aim is to penetrate deeply into the roots of customer behavior. According to Forrester, the more specifically brand manufacturers address their audience, the more loyal customers they will have in the long term.

Retailers are discovering empathy via data

Following the lead of e-commerce providers, stationary retailers in Germany have also recognized the importance of data-supported empathy for their own business success. The discounter Lidl recently dared a venture and launched a digital customer card via app in order to be able to use the data for even more targeted advertising and offers. Purchasing behavior is recorded in detail and include the type and quantity of products, redeemed coupons, time of payment, means of payment and the preferred home branch of the respective cardholder. In return, customers receive special offers tailored to their needs.

Douglas and H&M have also launched electronic loyalty cards with bonus points and exclusive incentives. The company invested in the Douglas Card early on, CEO Tina Müller said in a recent interview with the blog Kassenzone, citing examples: “A store manager can use an event template on the computer in the store before segmenting the card and inviting a specific participant. We can also use this data to display recommendations much more specifically online.

The Otto Group has taken this one step further with its subsidiary Otto Group Media, which was founded in 2015 and also uses its customer knowledge for third parties. The marketer promises concentrated knowledge of 25 million CRM data in 150 segments. This is enough detailed material to launch tailor-made campaigns for affiliated brand manufacturers as well.

The bottom line:

The material is available, as app users are quite willing to share their data in exchange for a corresponding individual benefit. However, brand manufacturers that want to survive the tough competition of customer loyalty will have to aggregate, manage and smartly analyze CRM data themselves. And they should go about this in an honest way. Even with Lidl’s new electronic customer card, data protection authorities took a close look. Transparency is of top priority when it comes to customer loyalty.