Each of us has access to more than 10 million products from anywhere at any given time via smartphones and other devices. And companies don’t miss any opportunities to tell us what we personally are supposed to need and use.
Typically, this boils down to this: “Many people who are your age or have similar shopping habits were interested in these products or services.” Sometimes, this approach to personalization is helpful, but most of the time, it falls short because it doesn’t get to the bottom of why something is truly relevant to the individual customer.
In today’s digital world, companies no longer need to rely on this segment-centric and wisdom-of-the-crowd approach. With the technologies at hand, we have the ability to instead look at how individual customers interact with specific products and services and what features they prefer.
In short, companies can now shed light on a person’s unique needs, wants and preferences and use these insights to create highly individualized experiences that go way beyond recommendations.
How does it work?
Think of it as the sequencing of a customer’s genome.
It starts with taking advantage of the changing data landscape, such as the significant increases in accessible data and advancements in algorithms. The technology now allows us to deconstruct each interaction a customer has with a brand, such as purchases, emails opened, events attended and social posts they like.
From there, we can also capture the DNA of each product or service composed of ingredients, features, specifications and ratings—and map them to the individuals’ interactions and choices made. Are they brand fanatics? Do they prefer certain colors, styles or features? Do they have unique needs for allergies or accessibility? This will allow companies to move away from the simple what to understanding the why.
Why do it?
You should offer user-specific suggestions because it helps customers, which in turn helps the business—today more than ever.
People are becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of products in the market. This abundance of choice is having a detrimental impact on brands. Research shows consumers are more likely to make poor decisions, be less satisfied and switch stores entirely when confronted with too broad a choice. Just consider that 39 percent of consumers told Accenture Interactive they have left a website and made a purchase on another site or in a store because they were unable to cope with all the options.
How does the ‘genome’ help customers?
Companies that decode the individual motivations and passions of their customers will be able to provide experiences that are truly personal.
At the most basic level, they will be able to provide product and service recommendations that are much more relevant to the people receiving them.
But the opportunity is much bigger. Imagine offering what you know about customers back to them—for example, services acting like a digital personal assistant, concierge or shopper.
Ultimately, the “genomes” will bring forth a unique enterprise asset—an asset that is richer, more dynamic and at a much greater scale than traditional market research. This collection of voices will be invaluable intellectual property. Companies can drive new forms of innovation from it across marketing, merchandising and service design—products, services and, most important, experiences.
Today, experience is the new battleground. Brands must create experiences that are curated to the individual. Shifting their thinking from the what to the why when it comes to customers’ choices will be an important first step to success.
I would like to thank Jeriad Zoghby, global personalization lead at Accenture Interactive, for his contribution to this post.
Bob Barr is the managing director of Accenture Interactive, where he leads Accenture’s North American Digital Transformation and Operations Practice and serves as the global B2B commerce lead. As a senior digital agency executive with more than 20 years of digital experience, he provides digital strategy, marketing and transformation services, as well as other digital managed services, for B2B to B2C organizations in both the business world and government.
Prior to becoming the managing director of Accenture Interactive, Bob was the senior vice president at Acquity Group and led the firm’s North American technology business services unit. With a staff of more than 400 people, the practice provided digital technology strategy, implementation and operational and hosting services to clients in industries representing all SIC codes. Bob holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and he received a business certification from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.
Bob has proven expertise across B2B, B2C and B2B2C digital solutions and businesses, and is an expert in building and leading high-performance organizations in many digital sectors. His specialties include digital strategy and operations, platform and infrastructure development, user experience, demand generation, organization design and change management.
Bob is also an avid distance runner, a club champion tennis player and a tournament champion chess player.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Bob Barr and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications Inc. or its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.