Consumers welcome personalised offerings but businesses struggle to deliver, finds Accenture Interactive

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New research from Accenture Interactive indicates that offering personalised experiences will translate to higher sales if businesses remove unintended barriers consumers report. While most consumers welcome personalised offerings, many complain of having received irrelevant recommendations and experienced an overwhelming choice of options when visiting brands and retailers’ websites.

The ups and downs of personalisation

According to Accenture Interactive’s new Personalisation Pulse Check, a survey among more than 1,500 consumers aged 18 to 60 across the United States and United Kingdom, consumers have a positive attitude towards personalised offerings and services. This includes:

  • Being recognized – more than one in two consumers (56%) are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that recognizes them by name.
  • Being offered relevant recommendations – three in five (58%) are more likely to make a purchase when a retailer recommends options for them based on their past purchases or preferences.
  • Being remembered – two in three (65%) are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that knows their purchase history.

A full 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that provide any of these three services.

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Despite their openness to personalisation, many consumers are disappointed with the experiences they receive, such as:

  • A glut of options – two in five (39%) have left a business’ website and made a purchase elsewhere, because they were overwhelmed by too many options.
  • Irrelevant recommendations – just one in two (50%) reported ever making a purchase recommended to them on a retailer’s website.

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“Brands today have a responsibility to make it easy for customers to engage, buy and consume what they want, how and when they want,” said Jeriad Zoghby, global personalisation lead at Accenture Interactive. “The availability of data and digital technology today allows for a deeper level of personalisation needed to dynamically curate experiences to each individual and context, across marketing, shopping, and services interactions. Yet many brands are still grappling with delivering upon customers’ desire for more personalised experiences. They create unintended barriers, for example, when onsite search delivers irrelevant results or landing pages don’t match known customer intent or profiles. In an era when your brand is the experience, it’s imperative that retailers deliver the ultimate user-friendly and tailored experiences or risk sacrificing sales and loyalty.”

Most companies are still experimenting with personalisation

According to Zoghby, many customers are finding personalised experiences lacking because most companies are still in the experimental stages. Based on his market observations, the vast majority of businesses are in stages 1 and 2 of a 5-stage personalisation maturity model, meaning they practice personalisation minimally or selectively and base their campaigns and experiences on expert judgment, simplistic business rules and simple testing of web page or email experiences to see which one performs better (A/B testing).

“The next stage is managed personalisation, where companies transition to an operating model in a similar fashion to what they’ve created for content management or e-commerce operations,” Zoghby said. “It includes having dedicated teams and well-defined processes and governance to ensure that personalisation is applied consistently across all customer experiences.”

According to the survey, video streaming is among the more sophisticated industries regarding personalisation. It demonstrates particularly high rate of customer satisfaction when it comes to the use of personal data for a better personalised experience. Two in three respondents (66%) reported services, such as Netflix and Hulu, use their data to recommend products and videos they might like.

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Consumers expect transparency and control of their data

More than anything, personalisation depends on data. The survey found that 70% of consumers are generally comfortable with retailers, news sites, streaming services and service providers collecting personal data if they are transparent about how they use it. Three in four (75%) are generally comfortable with companies collecting personal data if they can control how it is used. Four in five (80%) are comfortable with their data being collected if a company offers either of these two options.

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