Retaining customers and increasing loyalty is hard in a world where consumers switch brands in a heartbeat.

But there is some hope. A new study from Viant, released during AdWeek New York, provides a surprising statistic that could swing the needle in favor of the retailer.

In “the anatomy of a department store shopper,” Viant’s study takes a look at the shopping habits and lifestyles of consumers across three top national stores — Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s.

For this study, Viant analyzed the shopping habits of nearly three million U.S. residents, representing a sample of shoppers in the upper quartile by per capita spending for each department store.

And when it comes to customer loyalty, one thing becomes clear: Cross-channel marketing could be the difference between retaining customers and losing them to the competition.

“The ability to manage customer messaging across digital, television and print is possible today, but it’s not easy,” Jon Schulz, CMO at Viant, told me. “The average U.S. household has approximately ten internet-connected devices, and with most of today’s advertising focus — budget and creative — directed to the individual device (mobile) or channel (television), retailers are missing an opportunity to manage the conversation with their customers properly.”

Shoppers, it seems, are more likely to purchase in-store than online, with the 25-44 age range doing the most online shopping. However, shoppers at all three of these major retailers are more likely to be heavy internet shoppers compared to other consumers in Viant’s identity management platform (IMP), which has 1.2 billion registered users.

Underlining this finding, Accenture’s “Global Consumer Pulse Survey” reported that 82 percent of consumers who switch brands say that companies could have retained them with more seamless cross-channel experiences.

At AdWeek, there has certainly been a lot of talk around connected TVs too, and that adds to the cross-channel challenge.

“Connected TVs have brought the biggest screen in the home into the mix, and print subscriber data ties back to the household as well,” Schulz said. “With a true people-based approach that ties together TV ad exposure, print exposure, and digital exposure across smartphone, tablet, and computer, retailers can achieve a single view of their customer and provide a continuous, connected path from TV to mobile to print to in-store and back again. The benefit to this approach is not only comprehensive reach and frequency management but also the ability to better understand true advertising impact, path to purchase, and ultimately return on ad spend.”

So how is connected TV going to change the game?

“TV is already part of the cross-channel mix today, as there are currently about 40 million smart TVs in U.S. households and that is growing at a rate of 20 million per year,” Schulz said. “This makes the biggest screen in the house just another connected device. At Viant, we are working with advertisers to fingerprint their TV ads and determine which households exposed to those ads visited their brand website, purchased their products or services online, and/or visited and purchased at their stores. This takes TV advertising beyond small panel-based projection methods to large-scale census measurement.”

The key takeaway?

Marketers and advertisers need to connect their messaging with the customer journey, and do that across all available channels and devices. Not only to provide measurement across the customer journey and understand the return on ad spend, but because it helps keep customers loyal to the brand through stronger emotional connections.

The full report is available to read via Viant’s website.

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