In the current consumer climate, individual preference, customised products, services and experiences have evolved from innovative to necessary. Today’s consumer wants to feel unique, and be served as such.
Experiences and products that allow consumers to express their identities and are personalised to the individual are now fundamental. Saturated by choice and feeling fatigued and overwhelmed by a constant stream of content, consumers rarely want to make time-consuming decisions to enable them to purchase.
So, what does this mean for advertising, a traditionally one message fits all media? Consumers are still receptive to traditional forms of advertising but with so much content readily available campaigns will now have to work harder to cut through the noise to be noticed, or look to other means to engage.
With the introduction of data-rich digital opportunities and sophisticated technologies, expectations around personalisation are being reset by consumer experience. Brands are now adopting tools and platforms which have the ability to personalise on a deeper, more authentic and if possible, subconscious level.
Highly effective algorithms, such as Spotify’s weekly playlist have established the idea that brands can discern things about consumer tastes that they didn’t yet realise themselves. Consumers will embrace services that can reveal to them what they really want, but will this come at a cost to brands?
Growing up in the digital age, attuned to social media and online content has made younger consumers, particularly Gen Z, more accustomed to providing data to companies in order to use their products or services, with 53% willing to share personal data.
However, in return, these consumers expect better products, innovative content and more personalised services. Consumers have shown a willingness to share personal data when there are clearly defined benefits (e.g. discounts, loyalty points). This is a step beyond traditional loyalty systems and consumers will no longer sacrifice their data for standard discounting. Loyalty is being re-defined as vouchers are replaced with personalised discounts, rewards and access to events or brand experiences.
Consumers are also beginning to realise the importance of their data and the demand for personalisation will only intensify as anxieties about how personal information is shared grows.
Over the next ten years, it seems that advertising will increasingly rely on the consumer choosing to engage with a largely tech driven format. If so, the emphasis will move from passive communication to predicting and then emoting based on human needs.
The developments in online shopping have armed consumers with more opportunity to personalise than ever before and shoppers are bringing these expectations with them to every part of their dialogue with brands.
The implications of this level of personalisation beyond advertising, and to brands at retail are huge and stores should be prepared to deliver innovative experiences to their customers. A by product of the age of mass manufacture was the shift of bespoke (personalised) service becoming the reserve of only the most affluent. Yet now thanks to new technologies like 3D printing we’re seeing a resurgence of bespoke, offered at a much more affordable price point. Topshop have acknowledged the growth in the demand for customised retail in their target customer and are leading the way from in-store kiosks allowing you to design produce your own bespoke T-shirt to their Personal Shopper options which offer customised experience in a bricks and mortar in environment.
Be it traditional advertising or a store of the future, what’s starting to seem clear is that it will allow the consumer to step into brand experiences, broadening the emotional journey that these media currently provide.
For brands who want to use personalisation to enhance their customer’s experiences, it is important to consider that customers are only willing to share their information if they know that you will be using it to help them get what they want. To succeed in the future, brands need to start building trust today. New media can be used to move from broadcast advertising messages to a tailored ongoing dialogue will allow brands to gradually begin collecting data to enable them to personalise, providing the basis and benefit to what and why they are doing so.