Data Driven Marketing that Benefits Brand & Consumer: A QVC Story

QVC shoppers are loyal, and multi-channel.   Hopefully that sounds familiar to your brand, too! 

A multi-year long effort to understand, articulate and act upon the voice of the customer has led to increased sales across channels, and a rich – and actionable! – understanding and appreciation of the customer.  John Hunter, CMO of QVC, gave our keynote today and it was a very generous look into the way that a data driven marketing approach can transform the relationship between brand and consumer.  The brand wins, but more importantly – the consumer wins.  

Isn’t that what data driven marketing is all about? That win-win for both!

John started out by sharing a video about the relationship between brand and consumer.  The ending is inspiring: “It’s a personal connection.  Don’t just shop. Q.”  The point is that it’s not just shopping, it’s about personal stories, personal choices, access across channels, global product lines and very unique deals.

“At a time when most people take the social recommendation of a stranger over the promise of a company, we realize that Marketers are no longer in charge. Get over it,” Hunter said.  In-the-moment data consumption now drives the QVC engine. In fact, John said that during a TV broadcast, the host is watching sales figures by product in real time.  He or she adjusts the sales pitch based on the sales success in the moment – extending some offers and skipping ahead on others. 

We are now in the time of the “pervasively connected customer who is always on,” John said.  QVC aims to empower the customer to “co-create” the retail experience.  “Access is the theme of this decade,” he says.  Meaning access to brands, products via the explosiveness of social media.  The goal is to allow customers to “make buying decisions when you want, at your convenience.”

We’ve all either done it or seen someone do it in a retail store.  John shared examples of customers saying that when they reached a buying decision, they pull out their mobile phone, tablet or PC and search for a price comparison.  “Where the purchase is made is not where the sale is made,” he said.  So QVC has expanded their use of transactional data to track the entire customer journey across day parts, situations and devices.   “We needed to drop our own pre-conceived notions of how she shops with us.”

After a major effort to listen to the customer – a project that John recommends for every marketer – QVC can now adjust the buying experience and the customer journey based on those different wants and needs.   They found that engagement is not consistent even among the same group of customers.  “Shoppers have new tools.  Different wants and needs.  One shopper can shop 10 different ways, Ten shoppers may shop hundreds of different ways,” he said.   “You hear key gems to highlight and then you know to make that aspect accessible to your customers across channels.”

He noted that the infrastructure of technology, people and process was not an overnight or simple thing to construct.  “We focused on one aspect each year and so we able to move in a positive direction without overwhelming the business,” he said during the Q&A.

Welcome to the world of the omni platform customer. Customers shop and interact with brands as it is convenient for them.  Don’t fight this trend – embrace it.  For QVC, they found that the customer did not want to buy from the brand, they wanted to participate in the brand.  QVC is a wonderful example of strong data driven marketing resulting in a delightful and welcome customer experience.

John’s Top Three Takeaways:

  1. Voice of the customer and preference data are key to developing a deep understanding of your customer ;
  2. Develop your multi platform startatgy around how the customer or groups of customers want to access your brand ;
  3. Define your customer and their experience with your brand.


Thank you, John, for an excellent and insightful keynote!


– Stephanie Miller, VP, Member Relations, The DMA (@stephanieSAM)

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