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Publicis' Nicoll on how brands and products can become 'irresistible' with Arc Irresistible Commerce

Richard Nicoll is the chief shopper marketing officer of Publicis Communications and managing director of Arc.

Arc Worldwide, Publicis Groupe's brand activation, and experiential shopper agency unveiled its new Irresistible Commerce Operating System at the second annual ChinaShop conference in Kunming, China in November 2018.

In his keynote speech Richard Nicoll, chief shopper marketing officer of Publicis Communications and managing director of Arc explained that in the current, ultra-competitive retail environment, where consumers not only have more choices but are more informed and more selective, the challenge for any marketer, is how to make their brand too attractive and tempting to be resisted and too powerful or convincing to be ignored.

In other words, how can they make their brand or product irresistible? He explains to The Drum how marketers can make use of the new operating system.

How will Arc’s new Irresistible Commerce Operating System make brands and products 'irresistible'?

Firstly, it sets out a clear uncompromising objective for brands at retail to be - ‘Too attractive and tempting to be resisted’ and ‘Too powerful or convincing to be ignored’

To do this we encourage brands to focus on four pillars when building their shopper marketing strategies and ideas: Insight, Personalization, Delight, and Innovation. We see these as the main building blocks of irresistibility at retail.

Arc’s Irresistible Commerce Operating System is an intentional process (made up of a number of proven insights and practical tools) which brands can use for building a winning communication strategy at the point of retail and sales.

Furthermore, Irresistible Commerce cannot just be marketing speak, it needs to be backed with a solid operating system, shopper marketing strategy and engagement plan, which can deliver the very tangible business benefit of irresistibility.

Why is understanding what attributes make people irresistible important?

There are valuable lessons that can be applied from research done in the area of human psychology. By understanding the specific attributes that make people irresistible to each other, we can then start to better understand the DNA of irresistibility and thus apply this at retail.

A person's behaviors and personality traits, as well as their appearance, is what makes a person irresistible to others, so by applying the same traits to brands in-store and online you are tapping into what we are already preconditioned to look for. After all, if any brand or product is ‘Too attractive and tempting to be resisted’ and ‘Too powerful or convincing to be ignored’ Then it’s is in a pretty good place, right?

Why do brands need to build both a rational and emotional connection with shoppers?

Leading marketers have argued for years that while reason leads to the conclusion, it is an emotion that leads to action. While I believe this to be true and the case for emotion is proved right up to the point of purchase, to close a sale and certainly to win a long-term customer, there are very specific shopper barriers to overcome such as price, relevance, and urgency to name a few. This means more often than not you need to build both that emotional and rational connection to win and sustain your sales.

I believe to achieve irresistibility at retail you need to build creative solutions that trigger ‘emotion which is tempered by reason and which has clear reason enriched with emotion’. For each brand than it is a question of the degree by which they will balance this equation, inevitably this will vary by category and channel.

As brands and retailers gravitate towards providing omni-channel experiences for their customers, how do they ensure data privacy and that the personalisation doesn’t get too personal?

I guess it’s how you define personal. What all brands are striving for nowadays is to have one-to-one conversations with their consumers at scale. I think the key here is for brands to think of their communication with consumers similar to a any personal conversations, such that it needs to be consensual and worthwhile.

Consumers need to see a value and if they do they will often willingly and knowingly give up personal data. In the digital space, cookies are a fact of life and many consumers wouldn’t see these as unduly intrusive as they help generate more relevate content and convenience.

I think the physical retail space will most likely evolve in the same way, especially in China. Here, we already see an early adaption of face recognition in the commerce arena, more technologically driven CRM, matched data from payment systems, and data from e-commerce sales, increase the convenience and ease of every shopping experience.

The tech-centric experiences hold even more potential as they mesh with the growth of the expectation economy we live in now.

The big caveat, of course, is that the customer must always have willingly opted in and be aware of how the brand will use their data.