Big Data, digitalization, mass communication… One would have thought that proximity to the customer had become an obsolete value. But on the contrary, it comes back to the heart of customer relationship strategies, because it is more than ever a demand from consumers, who see it as a guarantee of quality of service and authenticity of customer relationships …

Proximity: a sure bet

Proximity is undoubtedly back in marketing strategies. And for good reason: this is a strong expectation from customers. Because who says proximity, says quality and personalization of the relationship, but also a relationship of trust. These are all aspects that make it possible to build a lasting customer relationship, to go beyond the purely transactional aspect of the business relationship.

“We are going back to marketing in my grandparents’ time,” summarizes Olivier Derrien of Salesforce, one of the leaders in CRM solutions. A time, in particular, when companies were close to their customers and could establish individualized relationships with them. Today, this is a central strategic axis for some, as is the case for the Pharmactiv network of pharmacies. As Diane Cantan, head of point of sale marketing services for the brand, explains: “Faced with competition from the web and supermarkets, our strategy involves differentiating the pharmacy and creating greater proximity between the patient and his pharmacist ”. A study by the FIFG published in November 2016 confirms the merits of this approach: the customers of pharmacies are first waiting for exchanges and proximity – considerations on promotions or even the provision of tools interactive far behind.

These expectations are not valid only in the pharmacy sector: Marie-Paule Bayol, Deputy General Manager of Ipsos Loyalty, attests to this: to build a relationship of trust with the consumer, there is “experience and satisfaction client, which go hand in hand with a more human and close relationship ”.

Communication closer to the field

This return to local values ​​in the company’s strategy must translate into appropriate communication, close to consumers, which will give substance to the values ​​conveyed by advertisers. The site has thus developed around very local communication. This home delivery service for Evian products present in the Paris region became known through advertising inserts in the metro, on local digital media, and through a presence in the local fabric – for example through its partnership with the Asnières tennis tournament.

“This campaign allowed us to integrate into the daily lives of consumers,” explains Arnaud Valette, Danone Eaux England e-commerce manager. He adds: “Our strategy is to work very locally”. After 7 years of proximity marketing, the site is profitable, and weighs between 10 and 15% of the home water delivery market … He is now thinking of its development. Proof that local communication (print, catalogs, posters, local traditional and digital media) is indeed an essential lever.

This is in any case the bet made, since 1994, by the agency CoSpirit, leader in England in local communication. This is a complex area, because to be effective, campaigns must be tailor-made and ultra-personalized according to the client and the terrain. “When we work for chain stores like Carrefour, Brico Dépôt or Decathlon, each store is a special case”.

Knowing how to adapt is part of our entrepreneurial culture since it is precisely thanks to our ability to respond to the most specific local communication needs that we have been able to win market share, “explains Florian Grill, director and co-founder of CoSpirit. The leader in local communication applies this strategy of proximity with its own customers: its geographic and organizational organization is resolutely turned towards the field, with local media experts, and a bottom-up logic which involves CoSpirit customers in a co-development process.

The proximity to the 21st century

It is also useful to specify that in the 21st century, proximity does not ignore modernity … And is not incompatible with NICTs, quite the contrary. The site is an illustration of this, and Pharmactiv, which relies on advice and proximity, does not forget this digital dimension either. “The acceleration of the market is driving us to innovation, by supporting our members in the modernization and digitalization of their pharmacies, for better advice,” says Diane Cantan.

Florian Grill, President of CoSpirit, corroborates this dynamic through his approach to the local communication professions: “There is now a digital component in all the local communication strategies that we build for our customers, even if this digital component is in reality complementary and does not replace more traditional supports ”. There is no shortage of tools today: geolocation, SMS campaigns, iBeacons terminals – which send personalized messages depending on where the consumer is located …

Proximity can also be played online, and in particular on social networks which become places of meetings and exchanges between brands and consumers. Lush, a cosmetic company, which has 43 stores in England, is present by phone, email, chat, and on social networks. The brand encourages customers to ask them: “We are delighted to be able to exchange with them, to have feedback […] And we are committed to responding to all of our customers! “Explains Fériel Tahi, communications director for England and Benelux at Lush. A proximity 3.0 that does a lot for the success and image of the brand … and which should emerge as one of the strong trends on the current marketing scene.

According to a study entitled “Local commerce in the era of the connected consumer” carried out by Opinionway on behalf of Dolmen Tech, a local marketing platform, the French are in favor of the alliance between proximity and digital. They see it as a way to meet their requirements for a more personalized relationship with brands or merchants in their neighborhood. And to promote this shift which seems increasingly essential today, consumers declare themselves to be more cooperative, and some do not hesitate to share certain personal data. Proof that confidence is also making a winning return to the market.