05 May 2017
Pretzels are better than omnichannel marketing. Discuss.

Pretzels are better than omnichannel marketing. Discuss.

Let me start by saying I love pretzels.

Not the crunchy permafood you find stuffed in bags, sacks and barrels down at Costco. No, the chewy, salty, warm deliciousness that is perfectly accompanied by sweet jalapeno mustard. That is the one I love.

While it probably has roots in the carb-centric kiwi culture, my obsession properly started with a mid-noughties move to Shanghai. Foreigners were common enough but skewed by early moves into the market by Eurozone companies and their staff. This unique cultural mix was most obvious on the shelves of City Supermarket. There I first found my twisted new love waiting warmly for me.

What Does This Mean For Omnichannel Marketing?

Knowing that I love pretzels so, an enterprising doyen of baked goods could surround my everyday journeys with pretzel goodness.

As I alight the escalators post morning train, an underpaid university student could be there to foist the first pretzel of my day upon me. Any time spent on social or digital channels would see me wrapped in creative and retargeting units trying to nudge me back towards another.

When my All Blacks next trounce those Wallabies, I might get an SMS push pleading with me to lay on some celebrations with the twisted German goodness. An American aggregator might even offer to sell me a pretzel subscription, buy 5 get 2 free on a weekly basis with exclusive access to an online documentary about a Portland couple with a commercial pretzel kitchen inside their trendy, tiny house.

All pretzels, all the time. And I love them right? So that would presumably be awesome.

Except it wouldn’t. I might even conceivably fall out of love with my favourite foodstuff.

Why Do So Many Businesses Do This, Then?

As far-fetched as it sounds, this crazy example is playing out far too often with businesses pursuing the omnichannel dream. Too many marketers mistake the ability to understand an individual and their behaviours across different channels as an opportunity to surround them with iterative messages and offers.

All of us who care about the audience need to fight against this trend toward ubiquity. Consistency doesn’t have to mean the same experience everywhere. The brands that get this right are going to be the ones who understand that sometimes hiding things can deliver a sense of achievement, that there is humour to be made in the different places that any given customer inhabits.

The spoils will go to the brands who understand that these new tools are not about more easily placing the audience in the buckets you’ve always used, but in crafting tardis-like thimbles for everyone who comes close enough to care.


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