Personalization Is Not a Technology Problem—It’s an Insight Challenge

Personalized shopping experience

Retailers that can’t deliver a personalized experience are at serious risk of becoming irrelevant soon. According to a study from Accenture, 75% of shoppers are more likely to do business with companies that recognize them by name, offer relevant recommendations and remember their purchase history.

This study highlights that we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift in the shopper-retailer relationship. With mobile technology and a wealth of information at their fingertips, shoppers want an experience that’s tailored to their individual needs and desires. They crave a one-to-one relationship with the retailers they do business with—and they’ll happily switch brands if that expectation isn’t met.

In the race for personalization, digital natives have an early lead. That’s because they’ve built infrastructure and business models that enable the real-time collection of data and the delivery of customer needs. But both incumbents and newcomers in retail need to realize that personalization isn’t simply a technology problem—it’s an insight problem that revolves around the customer journey.

To get personalization right, retailers need to take a step back, start from the beginning and look at the big picture. It requires understanding not just the logical aspect of purchases, but also the emotional triggers that convince shoppers to buy.

Three Tips for Better Personalization

We’ve helped many multinational retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers understand the omnichannel journey. Based on our experience, we recommend the following as starting points when thinking about solutions to personalization:

1. Map and visualize the journey

Do you know how your customer’s day looks like? Do you know what customers do before they buy your product, or what they do after? How does your product fit in into the customer’s life, and what “job” are they hiring your products for?

Getting a full context of your shopper’s daily lives helps to uncover instants-of-intent: those inflection points where you can influence purchasing decision. Using market research to map and visualize the path to purchase is a necessary first step to a personalization strategy.

2. Use the right mix of research methods

The shopper journey has never been more complex, and it’s far from linear. At the same time, shoppers don’t always accurately recall the steps they took to make a purchase. To get a comprehensive view of the shopper journey, you need a layered approach that combines observational, behavioral and transactional data.

Working with clients, we’ve employed a wide variety of research tools—including but not limited to social media analytics, eye-tracking technology and shopper ethnography—to get an accurate understanding of shopper attitudes, preferences and intent. Taking data from these methods and assessing the results quantitatively helps us identify the specific touchpoints that will engage and persuade consumers.

3. Look for your magic mobile moments

Smartphones have transformed shopping forever. They stimulate impulse buying, providing consumers with endless aisles of options. It’s not unusual for consumers to unconsciously turn to their devices when a need arises—and when they do, your brand needs to be there to facilitate the purchase.

When mapping the customer journey, don’t ignore the micro-moments when shoppers check their mobile phone. Based on our experience working with FMCG and retail brands, we know that these instants-of-intent offer illuminating insight on acquisition and retention, especially when it comes to online media strategy and message development.

The Customer Wants Personalization Now

Retailers aren’t investing in personalization because it’s easy; they’re doing it because it’s what consumers want. The good news is that getting insight on personalization is worth the investment. Our clients tell us that by infusing the voice of the customer in the decision-making process, they’ve been able to make smarter and more confident decisions on resource allocation, messaging and go-to-market planning.

We’re still in the early days of personalization. With advancements in machine learning, voice recognition and other technologies, smart companies will think of more compelling ways to deliver even more personalized experiences and products. These new opportunities to delight shoppers will unlock category growth in the future. To take advantage of this monumental shift in how shoppers buy, retailers must continuously get insight on the evolving shopper journey. Email me to learn how Market Strategies International researchers can help you identify and measure the evolving shopper journey.

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