Adapting Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle in Fashion Retail

Lifecycle marketing is a way of engaging with the customers contextually, guiding them along their journey with the brand, and providing them the experiences they like
Adapting Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle in Fashion Retail

According to McKinsey’s The state of Fashion 2018 report, proliferation of digital channels and raised expectations on experience are the top two trends for fashion retail. Customers expect brands to engage with them in a consistent fashion and tune their engagement in real-time based on current context. What does this mean for marketers? It follows that selling is not the sole motive today, but just one of the milestones. This shopper’s journey starts early: When she is just toying with the idea of buying those beige wedges, or perhaps simply researching the options. The journey continues beyond a sale, moving the needle from product-centric marketing to customer-centric marketing. That is where Lifecycle marketing comes into picture.

Understanding customers based on their phase in the lifecycle

Understanding the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, learning, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a brand is important, to get craft the right strategies that will get a potential customer's attention, turn her into a paying customer, and nurture her to loyalty. Her satisfaction and positive experiences make her an advocate of the brand, providing an excellent source of referrals and organic growth.

How to use Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is a way of engaging with the customers contextually, guiding them along their journey with the brand, and providing them the experiences they like.

This approach to marketing can create higher customer engagement through more relevant communications and generate higher sales from existing customer base.

 Creating a lifecycle marketing plan requires complete knowledge of the customer, and has 3 broad components:

  1. setting up objectives for customers in various phases of the lifecycle
  2. creating the right cadence of communication - the right time and right channel
  3. ascertaining the right message for each customer


Customer phase in lifecycle




Customers who have visited, registered but have not transacted

Drive first purchase

New Customer

Customers who have had their first transaction with the brand recently

Drive repeat transactions and loyalty

Active Customer

Customers with multiple transactions with the brand

Nurture and increase customer lifetime value

Inactive Customer

Existing customers who have not transacted in a while (On the verge of lapsing)

Prevent churn

Lapsed Customer

Customers who have not transacted for a long time

Win-back/ Reactivate

Reactivated Customer

Lapsed customers who have transacted again after a long time

Drive frequent purchases and improve engagement

Fig. Objective of lifecycle marketing in different customer phases

In its simplest form, lifecycle marketing can mean executing periodic promotions for customers in each phase. For example, every week, customers are segmented based on their phase in the lifecycle and a personalized campaign is executed – with perhaps a one-time discount or limited period free-shipping thrown in for inactive or lapsed customers, but not for the active ones.

While the overall objective for all in a specific phase is same, the tactics such as message, channel and time of execution must be very different for every customer based on their profile, preferences and purchase behavior.

Lifecycle marketing for fashion retail

The core principles of lifecycle marketing are similar across industries, but fashion retail has some unique aspects to be considered before executing promotions

Cross-channel presence

Fashion retail has seen a proliferation in digital channels. Given the high-involvement nature in shopping and the time taken to decide, customers want to be convinced of the merchandize and compare it with other products making omnichannel an integral part. Lifecycle marketers must consider customer’s preferences and lifecycle phase and choose the right channel mix. 

Shopping experience is critical

Experience plays a big role in fashion purchases, be it online or offline. Engaging with customers in real-time, be it on the mobile app, website or through store staff, and personalizing the experience is critical. This requires that all data and understanding of the customer is available in a unified manner.

Low purchase frequency

While some other retail businesses enjoy high visit frequency (for example grocery or restaurants), frequency of purchase in fashion is low. This should not stop the fashion marketer from engaging with the customers regularly - every marketing interaction should be considered an opportunity to build preference, rather than a tactical communication. Marketers need to keep customers informed about product launches, new looks and other happenings with the brand. Lifecycle marketing design should include consistent nurturing that engages and progresses customers towards loyalty.

Customer Lifecycle Marketing delivers on four key business asks

Getting a single view of the customer is a pre-requisite for Customer lifecycle marketing - a Customer Data Platform (CDP) provides the core-infrastructure that gets data from multiple systems and sources such as customer profile, loyalty engagement, transaction, campaign, e-commerce engagement, mobile app engagement, social and customer feedback (NPS, CSAT etc.). This data is leveraged to deliver on key business asks:

  1. Strong customer insights

Designing life cycle promotions requires deciding on 4 key elements for each customer:

  • Frequency of communication
  • Right time of contact
  • Right offer
  • Right product and message (purchase behavior-based segmentation)

To get these details right, the organization must be analytically driven, understand their customers, predict their behavior and identify the best engagement opportunities. Fashion retail specific customer analytics can provide out-of-the-box data management, business analysis, and business user friendly advanced analytics that deliver quickest time to value.

Automated execution

Lifecycle marketing must be running continuously and should be ‘Always on’. The system should be able to respond to every move of the customer based on their engagement, change in lifecycle phase etc. The ability to schedule promotions for a future date, on a recurring schedule or based on a trigger is important, along with communicating on a the right digital channels.

  1. Hyper-personalization

Lifecycle marketing promotions must be personalized so they strike a chord with the customer. The ability to dynamically personalize message content for each customer includes understanding their attributes, micro-segments, behavior and past transaction history

  1. Real-time engagement

To deliver a great experience, real-time engagement capabilities can publish personalized banners on websites and e-commerce sites, trigger mobile app notifications, emails and SMS. This could be based on items being viewed, added to a cart or wish-list, category being browsed, or customer’s location. Similarly, it can enable store associates to effectively engage with the customers when they are in store and offer them the right guidance based on their lifecycle phase. E.g. New customers can be educated about the entire product portfolio, whereas repeat customers can be engaged based on their product preferences.

According to Bain and Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by a whopping 75%. It’s no secret that existing customers are key to growing your business and customer lifecycle marketing is a great way to engage these precious customers. If you have not started customer lifecycle marketing yet, there is no better time than now. If you already use this approach, there is always room for improvement through addition of new data sources, making your messages more relevant and impactful.

The article has been penned down by Bhavna Sachar, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Customer Analytics at Manthan

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