Effort and patience are things of the past, not worth being rewarded any more. Today’s currency is immediacy. Thanks to technology, consumers have heightened expectations from everything. They demand, and often receive, products and services tailored to their exact specifications, where and when they require them. The days of mass-produced goods and services, designed to serve the majority, appear to be numbered as we’re stepping into the era of mass-personalisation. The on-demand economy is the first step and dominant players are already challenging established old-economy giants. The rewards for those who evolve and adapt are as big as the losses for those who don’t.
At the heart of this trend is tracked data, which, at the moment, provides marketers with enough insights to serve personalised ads to targeted and retargeted consumers, across a variety of digital platforms and formats. Done well, this increases conversions. Done badly, brands over-target their consumers and alienate them. This placement of ads on platforms where in-market audiences are assumed to be, based on a limited data set, creates the uneasy feeling among web users of being stalked by ads for products they’ve been researching online. Retargeting methods that rely on limited assumptions can result in utter wastage for brands.
In order to avoid such mistakes, brands must ensure they’re not overlooking the vast amounts of available data that can help make their ads and online experiences more useful and personalised to individual consumers. This is especially important because marketers tend to bid higher on what they assume to be the most relevant placements for their ads, in order to increase their saliency and maximise conversions. By increasing the pool of data being considered, brands can integrate themselves more seamlessly and more cost-effectively into consumers’ lives.
These are just the early days of tracking, which has yet to be perfected before we can all enjoy the full effect of hyper-customisation. We can look forward to a near future in which we will craft personalised ads and experiences by weaving various data streams from different sectors and platforms in which consumers will have left their data footprints. Once we blend these various data points and paint a holistic view, we will be able to refine our targeting strategies without relying on assumptions. We will know exactly what consumers are looking for, where they’re looking for it and when they are in each of the specific stages of the purchase process.
To garner information and capitalise on this merger of data sources, businesses and organisations will collaborate beyond their immediate supply chains and business ecosystems. This new approach will bring much utility and relevance to consumers if used properly. Businesses will be able to track, measure and assess how consumers interact with their products and services, getting feedback that will help improve their brand experience. It will become a continuous loop of learning and improvement based on consumer demands.
The more brands know about their consumers’ habits and preferences, the better the product or experience can be. In order to elicit more information from consumers directly, tracking codes or devices will reveal new information about how brands are used and in what context. Sensors in a chocolate box will identify usage patterns, how long products last or what occasions they celebrate. Pillow manufacturers, will learn more about the different sleeping behaviours and patterns from data collected through the products themselves and inject their learnings into their design. Sports shoes will be tailored to suit different activity levels with highly personalised textiles and fabrics to bring more comfort and ease for different sports activities.
Privacy concerns over tracking will undoubtedly force regulation and impose guardrails to avoid undesirable side effects. However, its benefits will be the biggest driver for its adoption, as it will eventually eliminate approximation and dissatisfaction. Imagine being able to find the perfect fit every time you shop for shoes, which are always available. What about a meal with the right level of spice or salt for your taste? If this comes at the price of some anonymised data being transmitted, collected and used just for you, wouldn’t you be OK with this? Are you ready for mass-personalised experiences, or prefer to stick with those that are mass-produced?