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June 27, 2016
Creepy vs. cool: Getting personalisation right
By: David Richards

Accenture recently surveyed 1000 American customers to highlight what they found ‘creepy’ and ‘cool’ in a personalised shopping experience.

Personalisation in retail is nothing new. Part of the appeal of local shops was the greengrocer remembering you favour Granny Smiths and the butcher knowing you prefer lamb to beef. The landscape of retail has changed, but personalised retail experiences remain and are more tailored to us than ever. However, has targeted retail become too over-familiar and gone from ‘cool’ to ‘creepy’? Accenture recently surveyed 1000 American customers to highlight what they found ‘creepy’ and ‘cool’ in a personalised shopping experience. Looking at both online and in-store retail, the survey measured customer opinion on tailored shopping.

There’s a fine line between ‘cool’ and ‘creepy’

There are instances where customers value the retailer’s input, such as appropriate warning being given on dangerous items or healthcare advice being dispensed by a pharmacist. Good knowledge and strong recommendations from staff were appreciated, but intervention in purchases of food or clothes were criticised by 46% of those surveyed. Customers were happy to receive discounts and complementary item suggestions when shopping but found seeing recommendations from their friends while online shopping was delving too far into ‘creepy’. 82% of respondents were happy to receive coupons and loyalty points, by far the preferred method of shopping personalisation.

Customers (mostly) know they’re being watched– and they don’t like it

Over 70% know that retailers are tracking their online movements, but a smaller group realised they were also being tracked in store. Although increasingly aware that retailers are developing capabilities to predict buying behaviour, 52% were uncomfortable with being tracked by a retailer at all.

Personal information can be bought

All demographics surveyed felt comfortable giving some personal information to retailers, with younger respondents more likely to supply the most detail. 64% of those who supplied personal information were keen to receive discounts, deals and offers in exchange for giving this to retailers and email was the most effective method through which to send personalised offers, at 81%.

There’s more trust online

Although only a third of respondents felt confident that the information they supplied to online retailers was being correctly safeguarded, half were confident that, were there to be a breach of their information, they would be compensated by the retailer. Perhaps surprisingly, Amazon was the most trusted of all retailers represented in the survey, with 69% of those surveyed saying they trusted them, will dollar stores scoring much less favourably. Balancing the use of personalised offers and recommendations to lure customers against being intrusive in tracking them is delicate. Getting it wrong can lead to customers feeling uncomfortable and ‘creeped out’. Personalised shopping, in store or online, should be a ‘cool’ experience, with customers receiving intuitive tailored suggestions without intrusion or pressure. Those who manage to straddle this fine will reap the rewards.

This content has been recently presented at the Retail Industry Leaders Forum (RILA) by David Richards, Global Managing Director and Renato Scaff, Managing Director at Accenture Retail.

Find out more about the hyperpersonalisation in retail here.

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