Part of that capability involves working with the Clemenger Group’s in-house research capability. In December 2018, leading customer intelligence agency Perceptive announced a planned merger with behavioural science specialists Sapien. The combined strength of the two Clemenger Group agencies is already helping 99’s clients with a new level of exceptional customer insights and behavioural research.
The additional research is adding to the already impressive suite of data, analytics, journey planning and CRM capabilities. This potent combination of data, research, insights and creativity allows 99 to motivate behaviour in the moments that matter most. Data is just information, it is the insights that unlock that data, to help define the brands and plan the communications.
99 has an impressive list of clients: Farmers, Mazda, New World, Green Cross Health, Spark, Pizza Hut, Kiwi Property to name a few.
In April, Stuff ran a story: “Now you can buy a new Mazda at a mall as the company follows Apple Stores model.” What the article didn’t show was the tremendous amount of work done in the background by 99 to help get this innovative scheme up and running in New Zealand. The Mazda Connect store (the first opened in Silverdale) is based in a shopping mall, with "ambassadors" whose job it is to provide information and assistance to the customer, rather than push the product.
As Stuff reported: “Customers can also use the store to configure the new car of their choice on a massive wall-mounted touch-screen — in their own time.” There is also a virtual reality experience. Mazda Connect is an example of the changing face of retail both here and overseas. “Going into a dealership can be a little daunting,” says Fuller. “So, this experience is more conducive to customer appeal.”
Most readers will be aware of Elton John's John Lewis Christmas ad, with John recalling heartwarming memories. But the UK retailer is at the forefront of improving the retail experience with innovations like after-hours private shopping and has 15 pilot stores nationwide to be used to trial new ideas and concepts.
This is the changing retail landscape which 99 and its clients are having to face.
Much has been written about the challenges of online shopping and the dangers of bricks and mortar retailers are having to cope with sales being usurped by the likes of Amazon. Creating a seamless shopping experience is a focus for Fuller.
"We are about ideas, not ads," he says. "We are not going straight to a comms outcome."
The 99 approach to success is multi-dimensional, searching for new revenue streams and opportunities.
"For a long time, we've worked besides retailers on a retail or client timeline," Fuller says.
"The world has changed though and now we have to work on the customer's timeline. We have to be relevant to them at the time of their choosing. We can't wait for the next green light or red dot sale to talk to the customer. The change that we have to make the changes for the businesses we support, is understanding the customer journeys – speaking to them in the right way at the right time. We have the data, the context and the insights to be so much more effective.”
The reality is, the customer has so much more choice today, they can buy online, they can be buying at midnight from the comfort of their couches. Competition is so much hotter than it has been in the past.
“Not only are our clients becoming more sophisticated, but their competitors are becoming more sophisticated," Fuller says.
With a far more empowered customer base, armed with far more information, able to buy what it wants, when and how it wants it, the need for data-driven insights is imperative.