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While personalization may be a favored tactic of marketers, consumers can feel differently – and in some cases, consider it creepy. Another disconnect exists between marketers and consumers: nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers believe that brands are struggling to meet their expectations for delivering a personalized experience, compared to fewer than half (43%) of marketers, per findings in a report [download page] by RedPoint Global via a Harris Poll survey.

Consumers have an overwhelming preference for being treated as an individual rather than a member of a segment, but what exactly makes them feel that way? Top of the list is to receive special offers available only to them (52%). This aligns with other data highlighting the benefit of discounts in driving brand loyalty. Previous research from Vision Critical also found that most consumers (52%) are comfortable sharing information in exchange for discounts and/or promotions or to get more personalized service and offers (42%).

Shoppers also want to be recognized as they carry out their activities across channels. Some 43% said that they’d feel like an individual were brands to know who they are across all touchpoints, such as in-store, mobile and others. This also could be a particular hygiene factor for brands, as 31% of consumer respondents also reported getting very frustrated when a company doesn’t recognize them as an existing customer.

In the context of growing concerns around data privacy, marketers should also consider how they allow consumers to choose their preferences in receiving communications. More than 4 in 10 survey respondents said they would feel more like an individual if a brand enabled them to customize and control how, when, where and why the brand will interact with them. But a sizable proportion also feel appreciated as individuals by brands’ interaction efforts, such as when brands send them recommendations on products recently purchased or viewed (38%) and reminders to purchase items left in an online shopping cart (29%).

It therefore appears that personalization, while highly-effective in delivering retail ROI, requires a careful balancing act to provide a good customer experience. Around a third of those polled said they were very frustrated when a company sends them an offer for something they have already bought (34%) or sends offers that aren’t relevant to them or that they wouldn’t be interested in (33%). And on this more holistic topic of customer experience, again there is a mismatch between what marketers and customers believe. Marketers (34%) were about twice as likely as consumers  (18%) to rate brands’ ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience as “excellent.”

If getting this balancing act right causes a sense of dizziness among marketers, particularly as the use of advanced tools such as AI for personalization is low and that personalization is often limited to email, the fact is that it’s impossible to please everyone – and indeed, 1 in 10 consumer respondents to RedPoint’s survey said nothing a brand did would make them feel like an individual.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a survey of 3,002 adults (18+) from the US (1,500), Canada (501) and the UK (1,001), all of whom had made a purchase in the past year. Separately, more than 450 marketers were surveyed in those markets.

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