The right messaging at the right time will be critical to driving sales this Christmas and next year, a panel of retail experts warned during RWRC’s Consumer 2021 week. 


The panel discussion ‘How Well Do You Really Know Your Shopper?’ took place this week as part of RWRC’s Consumer 2021 week and was held in association with Epsilon-Conversant. It took a closer look at research findings from a pool of 1,000 UK consumers on what they want from retailers.

My Wardrobe HQ chair Jane Shepherdson, Studio Retail Group chief executive Paul Kendrick and Pour Moi chief executive Michael Thomson took part alongside Ben Foulkes, senior business development director at Epsilon-Conversant. 

The research found that 62% of consumers said relevant offers and discounts, tailored to them and from brands they know, would encourage them to shop.

Just 17% said the same of a personalised on-site experience, showing that they want retailers to be proactive in reaching out to them, rather than having to discover products on a website. 

Hammering the message home further, 46% said offers or discounts are the most appropriate messaging from retailers right now.

When it comes to encouraging loyalty, the top driver was good value at 56%, followed again by discounts and offers for subscribers at 51%.

Further to this, the research revealed that 68% of consumers are willing to share their personal data to get the tailored experiences they crave. 

The panel all agreed that having the right messaging was key – and there are opportunities to be had for retailers that get it right. 

Anticipating what the shopper wants

Understanding what customers want first is critical, they said. 

How Well Do You Really Know Your Consumer

Studio Retail Group’s Kendrick said: “What we’ve found really useful over the last six months is an ongoing online customer panel where we survey and run sessions on a weekly basis. And using that to get a regular heartbeat of what customers are feeling has been hugely beneficial.”

Most businesses now have a wealth of customer data, but it is important to get a sense of human emotion and feeling to complement the statistical side and ensure a retailer’s messaging is spot on as the industry continues to face an uncertain future.

“It’s been like six years in six months. It’s been a rollercoaster of what customers want and what we should do about it”

Michael Thomson, Pour Moi

My Wardrobe HQ’s Shepherdson said: “Because rental is a new business, what we’re trying to do is build trust and get really, really close to our customers, so we look at an awful lot of behavioural data from them. But we still do rely on talking to them as much as we possibly can, and we can still do this because we are obviously still relatively small.”

Despite the tough economic times, Pour Moi’s Thomson said: “It’s been like six years in six months. It’s been a rollercoaster of what customers want and what we should do about it. 70% of traffic to our website was brand-new, conversions were hugely up and our return rates have halved.”

Getting ready for Christmas

Retail Week’s research found that 40% of consumers feel less confident about their personal finances, with 41% also stating they are planning to spend less during the Christmas Sales period this year. 

“People haven’t had the big family Easter, they’ve not had a holiday, so Christmas is going to be a big event”

Paul Kendrick, Studio Retail Group

Kendrick added that Christmas is already a talking point for the online value retailer’s customers. “People haven’t had the big family Easter, they’ve not had a holiday, so Christmas is going to be a big event,” he predicted.

Seasonal products, gifting and festive decorations are already experiencing an uplift at Studio Retail Group, with sales three times the size of this time last year. 

Communication with customers will remain a key priority for many this festive season.

Epsilon-Conversant’s Foulkes said: “Our advice to get that share of wallet is that you’ve got to message a lot earlier, maybe about delivery, being transparent about how much of a mess it might be in terms of delivery to your best customers and get them to come early.”

The panel agreed that the most loyal customers will shop earliest, but it is important to have enough stock and resource left to then service any newly acquired customers as the season goes on. 

“Customer acquisition comes later and you can then look at how you put dedicated personalised programmes in for those people to recapture them and build them into next year – that’s probably where the priority lies for us,” said Kendrick. 

Watch the full session on demand here. 


Over the course of this week, RWRC has been bringing you insights and opinions from the leaders of the biggest retailers in the UK and experts outside the sector across a series of in-depth analysis articles and virtual events to help you navigate the storm.  

Check out our full schedule here where you can catch up with the above session, as well as registering to watch Thursday morning’s events on demand, covering:

  • How to ride out a recession
  • What you need to thrive during tough economic times 
  • The 2020 consumer trends that are here to stay