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Are brands really embracing personalisation?

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As someone who has been in the digital industry since it's infancy, I have long dreamt of making the transition from building generic versions of digital assets, to experiences that adapt to the user. The idea of achieving this has been common discussion for a while, but the combination of the availability of rich personal data, and the technology to drive a good personalised experiences, have been the barrier.

To be candid, consumers may have also been a little cautious about the use of their data in this way, until more recently.

So the permeation of Social as a behaviour, has completely changed the availability of rich data. Many brands were bringing customer data from their CRM systems to the web from around 2000 onwards, but the ability to collect rich data from Social interactions, and intersect that with customer data, is only now becoming possible. This is a game changer. The technology to drive personalised digital experiences, has also evolved to the point where we can use this new data, to create seamless personalised experiences that tailor to the consumer and their interest in connecting with the brand.

Given these possibilities, the other key determining factor that has shifted, is the attitude of consumers. Most savvy web users now accept the idea of data being readily available, and via social interactions, we readily tell the world a lot about ourselves, our passions, our interests, and our actions. The consumer mindset has also shifted to accept what we refer to as a "value exchange" mindset. "I will tell the brand about myself, in exchange for an enhanced and personalised experience, tailored to my wants and needs". The more the brand improves that experience, the more the consumer engages and the more we can learn via that engagement.

So if these shifts have made it possible, are brands actually embracing the idea of personalisation? Are they creating truly consistent personalised experiences across their merged social, digital and mobile ecosystem?

The answer is that some are, but a large percentage have barely embarked on the process. I reviewed the results of a recent survey in the Australian Market, which included a significant percentage of the top 200 brands. While 61% surveyed indicated they had started down the path of personalisation, the detail revealed that a large number thought this meant inserting a name in an email, or location based offers. Very few had embarked on using personal information like social profile data, age, gender, browsing history or cross linking of data from other elements of the ecosystem. Even fewer have started to merge all of those characteristics together to get very specific.

If you look globally, there are some outstanding examples, but the degree of progress is not radically different. Amazon and Netflix are both well known forerunners in creating personalised experiences, that suggest new product ideas relating to past purchase history or common consumer behaviour. These forerunners set the demand. However, the evolution has not fully capitalised on the new data that consumers are readily making available through their interactions on social channels. Only a few brands seem to be embracing this opportunity.

So why is this? Is it because of an understanding of how to make this shift, or the challenge in bringing the data to bare on the opportunity, or perhaps even writing the business rules that reflect the desired consumer experience, relative to the reason why consumers connect with the brand and purchase?

Stay tuned as we add information about organisations and the consumer interfaces that are embracing the opportunity and winning.

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Posted by

David Fairfull
CEO & Co-Founder

David has developed deep marketing domain expertise and is passionate about shaping the the role technology is having on the marketing function. Formerly a Managing Partner of We Are Social (the largest global social agency), Regional Director APAC for McCann Erickson WorldGroup's digital business, and Managing Director of The Brave Group (an early pioneer in digital marketing), he is driven by the idea that technology can make marketing fun