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Is Facebook Advertising Safe for Retailers?

BY Jeff Cunning

The news about Facebook and its issues with Cambridge Analytica has been widely reported, with Facebook coming under intense scrutiny and fire for the perceived inadequacy of its privacy controls that enabled the now defunct British consulting firm to harvest and use Facebook user data to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Specifically, users and lawmakers had serious questions about the accessibility of personal profile and user data on the social network. As a result, Facebook implemented a long list of initial changes, in an attempt to show how it is enhancing data privacy.

But what does this mean for retailers and the consumers they want to reach and engage on Facebook? Should they still have data privacy concerns?

In this case, the short answer is no. The good news for retailers is that the vast majority of data used to create social ads on Facebook is not the data at issue. As long as retailers comply with the separate — but similarly infamous — EU GDPR guidelines, most retailers will experience little to no changes with their Facebook advertising.

So far, the efficacy of Facebook advertising as a whole hasn’t experienced any significant downturn. For now, the direct impact on retailers includes only the removal of third-party targeting options previously available through Facebook’s audience targeting user interface. Retailers who are nervous about that loss should rest easy: there are no planned changes to or issues with Facebook’s core targeting products, enabling businesses to continue to run effective, and secure, social ad campaigns.

So what does this all mean? Facebook advertising is still safe for retailers and the consumers they want to reach. And retailers shouldn’t shy away from using the site to reach their target audiences. Recent findings from Goldman Sachs revealed that the data scandal had very little impact on the social network’s traffic, with the company noting that Facebook’s U.S. unique users on mobile rose seven percent year-on-year to 188.6 million in April, when the scandal was in full force. Time spent on Facebook also went up.

Social advertising on Facebook can be extremely impactful for retailers, enabling them to attract more customers, build better relationships and drive more conversions. This recent scandal seems to be the latest in a storied history of claims around the demise of Facebook that ultimately turn out to be fruitless. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, nor are its users. And retailers shouldn’t be going anywhere either.

Jeff Cunning is VP of Pattern89, whose social advertising platform combines the power of artificial intelligence with campaign automation, along with industry benchmark data, to help brands discover the best content for paid social.

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The retail categories excelling at personalization are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers — especially Millennials — increasingly favor personalized products and experiences.

The top five retail categories that excel at offering personalized offerings are apparel and footwear, food and beverages, technology products, vacation and travel experiences, and household goods, according to “Made to Order: An analysis of U.S. consumers perceptions towards personalization,” a report from YouGov.

According to the data, 29% of American customers have personalized apparel or footwear, or food and beverages, respectively; 27% have customized technology products; 25% have created personalized travel and vacation and travel experiences, and 22% have customized household goods.

Interest in personalization is so high that the process is expected to have staying power in the current economy. One in 10 Americans (10%) consider personalization as a top interest, and overall, nearly one in three (30%) express some interest in the offering.

Millennials (40%) are most attracted to personalized merchandise and experiences. Thirty one percent of these shoppers are highly educated, and 31% posses $1,000 or more of monthly disposable income.

Part of the appeal of personalization is its ability to turn a product into a gift, allowing it to be both unique and special. This may be why 8% of Americans said they have personalized a product for someone else. These “gifters” make up 28% of personalizers in the U.S., and 52% of this group said they are willing to pay for premium personalization.

“The personalization economy will continue to grow and shape what consumers expect from products and services. Whether a brand already offers personalization or is still testing the waters, looking to what makes the consumer tick is the key, the study reported. “From an opportunity perspective, brands can get closer to their customers by using personalization as a transformative tool, one that turns a product into a shared experience using a brand’s resources and consumer’s sense of identity.”

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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Insider’s review of retail-related legislative developments – June 11

BY CSA Staff

Wages

North Carolina – A $15/hr provision for state workers was recently included in the state budget. Democrat lawmakers followed that with the introduction of a bill to raise the statewide minimum wage for the private sector from $7.25/hr to $8.80/hr. However, the Republican-led legislature appears likely to block the bill from moving forward.

North Dakota – Organizers of a $15/hr minimum wage ballot initiative expressed doubt that they would collect the necessary signatures prior to the July 9 deadline. As of May 2 they had only collected 2,000 of the nearly 13,000 required signatures.

Fargo, ND – The city commission voted 4-1 to consider a proposal to establish a $12/hr minimum wage by 2022. The proposal now goes to the community development committee for consideration.

St. Paul, MN – A non-profit group, the Citizens League, is participating in four public hearings held by the city over the next several months to collect input and data regarding the proposed increase of the city’s minimum wage to $15/hr. The group submitted the first part of their study (commissioned by the St. Paul Foundation) earlier this year. A council vote on the proposal is expected before the end of the year.

Wage Theft

Study – Good Jobs First, released an analysis of wage theft cases at the state and federal level since 2000. The data found that over $9 billion in payments and penalties have been paid out by some of the nation’s largest employers including retailers, restaurants, insurance companies and banks.

Joint Employer

NLRB – The Board announced this week that it will not reconsider the Hy-brand case (the vacated decision that for a brief period overturned the Browning-Ferris decision). Chairman Ring also responded to an inquiry from Sens. Sanders, Warren and Gillibrand this week confirming that the Board will begin the rulemaking process on the joint employer issue this summer. He explained “rulemaking will enable the Board to address ‘specific factual circumstances’ hypothetically and thus to furnish unions and employers the guidance that Browning-Ferris conspicuously failed to provide.”

Labor Policy

Vermont – A new law, intended to curb workplace sexual harassment, will create an online portal for filing complaints and will allow the attorney general’s office to enter a workplace, inspect records and/or conduct a survey of employees. The law also expands protections for workers against retaliation in their current workplace or in future roles. Provisions will also apply to non-employees, such as independent contractors and interns.

Taxes

LouisianaA much-debated tax package passed both the house and the senate and now heads to the governor’s desk. Among other provisions dealing with sales taxes, the package includes language that expands sales tax collection obligations to sellers with more than $100,000 in sales or more than 200 sales into the state annually. The language is modeled after the landmark South Dakota law that is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its constitutionality. That decision is expected sometime in June.

Trade

Federal – Bipartisan legislation was introduced to curb President Trump’s tariff actions based on national security threats. The bill would give Congress the authority to approve tariffs, but it faces a hard path forward in a contentious election year. President Trump would likely veto the legislation, if passed, so it would need at least 67 votes in the senate to sustain a veto. Leader McConnell has indicated an openness to adding the provision to an unrelated package set to move through the Senate in the coming weeks but has not indicated his direct support for the language.

European Union – The EU joined with Mexico to announce pending tariffs on U.S. exported products. The move is in retaliation to the Trump Administration’s reissuance of tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum. The EU member countries said they were finalizing a list totaling nearly $7 billion worth of imports including steel, agricultural and apparel products and the tariffs would go into effect in early July. The action follows Mexico’s announcement of similar pending retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Rounding out the action from key U.S. allies, Canada’s Prime Minister hinted at a similar path in his concluding speech at the G7 summit.

Key Takeaways

  • The NLRB is fast-becoming a lightning rod. Among other things, Board members have been taking the unprecedented step of refuting one another’s decisions and ideologies in public forums. While employers will applaud recent decisions and upcoming rulemakings by the Board, the breakdown of collegialism and the institutionalization of partisan infighting is a precedent that will create chaos in the future, leading to wild partisan swings at the Board. Over the long run, that instability, and the subsequent uncertainty it could cause for operators, may prove more damaging than unfavorable, short-term rulings or opinions.
  • The installation of self-service kiosks in over a thousand McDonald’s restaurants (with many more coming) significantly impacts the national narrative over higher minimum wages and the Fight for $15 campaign. Having the largest restaurant company openly embrace and invest in technology designed to replace actual workers signals to policy makers, opinion leaders and other stakeholders that there are real world implications to large mandated wage increases.

Legislature Status for Week of 6/11/18

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Eight state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
    • CA, DE, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, RI

Podcast

Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.

 

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

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