Japanese internet giant Rakuten on spinach, data analysis, and customer satisfaction

Data Driven Marketing

With more than 500 million global users, 99 million of them in its home market, Japan’s Rakuten is already one of the APAC region’s Internet giants. And data-driven insights that can be gleaned about that giant customer base that are now driving the business to even greater success.

A fine grained understanding of customer behaviour the company is now developing means that Rakuten is able to respond to customer’s clearly articulated requests, but also identify their “subconscious desires” and hence provide products and services that met those unspoken needs building both revenues and loyalty.

One of the significant assets Rakuten has is the customer’s data, at scale and with lifetime behaviour data, which are linked by the customer’s Rakuten member ID. This allows detailed data analytics to be performed that can then inform marketing, establishing a segment of one with marketing content delivered to the right person, at the right time and on the right device.

The degree of segmentation now possible includes the ability to create a segment of men who live in Tokyo, aged 20-25, who purchased an iPhone 5 two years ago but who have been browsing Android phones frequently in the last two weeks and who spend more than 500,000 yen per month on their credit card, and have travelled outside Japan twice in the last six months.

Identifying members with such hyper-detail-content is an extremely powerful assets for our data driven marketing initiatives.

This insight is also helping Rakuten build its internet ecosystem by successfully migrating customers from its traditional offline services and across to online offerings thanks to a more detailed understanding of the influencing factors that make people transition to an online service when they have traditionally preferred offline alternatives.

For example online grocery shoppers in Japan have been reticent to buy vegetables other than carrots and potatoes online, the perception being that other softer vegetables might be damaged in transit.

However analysis of shopping patterns found that when a consumer bought spinach online, and found that it had travelled well, that experience unlocked the gate to much more online vegetable shopping. Harnessing that insight Rakuten has been providing spinach coupons and discounts to online shoppers when they buy their potatoes and carrots, confident that those customers who take the plunge and buy the spinach will then go on to significantly increase the range of fruit and vegetables they are prepared to purchase online.

This simple insight, into the power of spinach, has unlocked an opportunity to significantly boost the overall success of Rakuten’s customer service, and therefore profitability. This is just a small and simple step, on a long journey to the creation of a truly responsive and engaged experience for all our customers.


Is spinach really the key to success? Discover how Rakuten is unlocking growth, by digging into data at Adobe Symposium!




Data Driven Marketing

Posted on 07-23-2015


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