Let’s get personal: Customisation vs. Personalisation

“Customers will start to get used to whether you know them or not and filter through their inbox to pick and trust only the brands which they know…..know them very well.”

The definition of what personalisation really means seems to be interpreted differently across brands and is defined by the channels they use. Some brands think they know what it means to offer a truly relevant and personalised experience to their customers but get it so utterly wrong. Whilst some brands, such as Yuppiechef and the way they execute their entire gift registry experience, deliver personalisation to the T. Our interpretation of personalisation refers to: “The ability to tailor a service or a product to accommodate specific individuals’ needs and interests.” According to a study by Colloquy, 76% of customers see the benefit of trading personal information for relevant discounts and personalised offers whilst a further 86% of customers feel that personalisation has an impact on what they purchase.

Source: Truth Loyalty Whitepaper 2017

Bond Brand Loyalty, which use satisfaction as an indicator for loyalty programme success showed in their 2016 loyalty report a direct correlation with satisfaction of the level of personalisation and satisfaction with the programme as a whole.

Source: Bond Brand Loyalty 2016

Personalisation vs. Customisation Loyalty & CRM programmes have evolved over the years and allowed brands to communicate tailored and targeted reward offerings driven by the single view of the customer which more and more brands will begin to access through increased investment in the right technologies that enable the collection of both structured and unstructured data. Yet, brands are still not getting personalisation right. Personalisation in its purest form should not just target the right individual customer, but get the right offer at the right time to the right individual (or segmented group of individuals). It goes far beyond getting their first name merge fields correct in your weekly newsletter. Where brands often fall short is when they think that they offer a personalised experience when all they are actually doing is customising  the experience through short-term marketing campaigns. Take Nutella, Coca Cola or Marmite for that matter, investing millions into a “personalisation” campaign which simply meant producing a few of the most commonly used first names of customers and placing them on their products. No doubt, they were great short-term marketing gimmicks, but in the end, yield little long-term stickiness or loyalty to the brand once the campaign was over.

“While Marmite might be offering customised labels, the brand isn’t about to start reformulating its recipe based on my personal dietary preferences, or shaping its jar to better fit my kitchen cupboards, so customisation will have its inevitable limit.”

Paul Taylor, BrandOpus executive creative director, interviewed by Marketing Week

Imagine the following scenario. A customer travels for business a few times a year and stays at the same hotel every time she frequents the same city for business. Every day, before she leaves for her daily client meetings, she grabs two cans of diet coke from the mini bar. She doesn’t drink anything else but the just two small cans of diet coke. Imagine her reaction if the hotel started to track her daily diet coke ritual and in turn stocks up the mini bar with more than two cans per day (discarding any beverage she has never used before). Or, even better, on her next trip, upon arrival to her room, an ice bucket filled with ice cold diet cokes (possibly customised with her name) awaits her on her bedside table. Now that is what we call true personalisation.

Source: Investec, #Morethandata campaign

As illustrated in the Investec video above, consumers like Luke, will gradually lose patience with brands which fail to offer personalised and specific forms of engagement. They will also no longer stand for being boxed into certain demographic or life stage categories, especially when they know just how much brands ought to know about them.  To conclude, we’re challenging companies to dive headfirst into fully understanding what they can do today, to offer a truly personalised experience. Those who don’t will find themselves becoming part of the background noise of companies clamouring for consumers’ attention.