Today’s digital customers expect personalization of retail offers and services through every channel. Retailers are seeking out every possible advantage in this technology sea change, with online recommendation engines and advertisement retargeting now the norm.
We’re now shifting into hyperpersonalization, in which advanced datasets—including geolocation, sentiment analysis, facial analysis, online and offline behavior, social platforms and other sources—are blended and analyzed using state-of-the-art techniques to understand customers at a level previously impossible.
However, personalization requires the proper implementation. It must be founded on robust analysis and directed at the right consumers.
At Accenture Technology Labs, our research provides a guide to help retailers develop trust, deliver value and keep personalization strategies focused on what digital customers think is really cool.
Discussion over wearable technology, unmanned aerial vehicles and the like sometimes strays into Orwellian “Big Brother” rhetoric.
But the reality is much more complicated, and not that threatening. What people think is “creepy” or “cool” in personalization has evolved considerably in the past two decades, and it will continue to change.
For example, in the mid-1990s, it would have been strange to have your location tracked by military satellites. Today, this happens 24/7 with smartphone GPS, which has also birthed a new market of location-based services.
Social platforms take it even further, enabling retailers to track customers’ shopping activities across a range of retailing web sites.
Personalization preferences vary by category and demographic.
In order to better understand what types of personalization are considered “creepy” versus “cool,” we analyzed the results from an Accenture survey of 1,000 customers that explored the concept of digital trust.
Overall, our findings indicate that consumer trust, awareness and the value that personalization services bring are the three most important factors in terms of what make customers comfortable with personalization.
For example, controlling for all demographic variables, respondents were 37 percent more likely to be comfortable being tracked if they believe retailers will keep their data secure, and 36 percent were more likely to be comfortable being tracked if they know that this is possible.
Key demographic differences also emerged, with Millennials wanting more personalization from retailers than other customer segments.
For example, almost three times the number of Millennials (17.2 percent) versus Boomers (6.2 percent) thinks being reminded while shopping about needed items is cool.
Likewise, 26.7 percent of Millennials think it is cool to be told which foods to avoid buying based on dietary restrictions; most of the other customer segments do not want this guidance while shopping.
Some 41 percent of Millennials want retailers to stop them from buying electronics that are not right or are outside their budget.
Gender differences also played a role, with women more likely than men to think receiving personalized food suggestions while in a grocery store is creepy.
We found there are several building blocks for creating digital trust, including:
Be desirable—Start by thinking in terms of value exchange. Offer customers enough value that they will trade it for their customer data.
Don’t move too fast—Test and deploy personalized experiences at the pace customers can digest.
Be transparent—Give customers control over their data and allow them to edit preferences to make personalization even more tailored to their needs.
Control data exposure—Maintain goodwill with customers by keeping their personal information safe using robust security processes and controls.
Set boundaries—Determine how customer data will (and will not) be used, including whether it will be monetized—and stick with the plan.
Establish the right foundation—Implement a forward-looking strategy for capturing and safeguarding customer information. Make sure the systems and supporting security measures are in place.
Understand where you stand and actively work on your relationship—Be conscious of how much customers trust your company and take deliberate steps to increase their trust.