Shoppers ‘won’t tolerate’ poor personalisation

Consumers both value and respond to personalisation - when it’s done right - but they will not tolerate being bombarded with poorly timed, intrusive or irrelevant messages.

This is according to research from Periscope By McKinsey, conducted across 2,590 adults in March, finding that shoppers in the US (55 per cent), UK (52 per cent), Germany (46 per cent) and France (44 per cent) said they often or sometimes sign-up to personalisation.

The findings highlighted how many of today’s consumers are more than willing to opt-in to receive communications via SMS, email or social media from the brands and retailers that they know.

However, results also indicated that shoppers in all countries think that most messages they receive still feel like mass marketing that was not created with them in mind – France 47 per cent, UK 42 per cent, Germany 40 per cent, US 36 per cent.

Despite this current personalisation shortfall, around one-third of messages received by US (37 per cent) and French (32 per cent) consumers, and around one-quarter of messages received by German (27 per cent) and UK (26 per cent) consumers had stimulated them to act.

Recommendations related to a previous search also ranked in the top three for shoppers in the US (43 per cent) and UK (39 per cent), while retargeting the exact product for which they had previously searched resonated with consumers in France (44 per cent) and Germany (40 per cent).

It was updates relating to product availability and/or price that proved particularly popular in all four markets, taking second spot with 42 per cent of shoppers in Germany and the UK.

The research revealed that while shoppers recognise that brands and retailers are using their data to target and personalise messages, they are definitely unsettled when they feel their digital or personal privacy is being invaded.

Unsolicited communications from companies they don’t know was a top issue for US consumers (41 per cent), and the second biggest cause for concern for German shoppers (39 per cent). However, it was the unsettling eeriness of location tracking messages that caused the most anxiety for UK (40 per cent) shoppers.

Getting a message within seconds of undertaking a purchase or having conducted an online search also made shoppers uncomfortable – identified as the second most likely cause for concern by consumers in the UK (38 per cent).

“This year’s findings represent a very clear learning point for retailers and brands – taking personalisation efforts to the next level represents a significant opportunity to drive up consumer engagement,” said Lars Fiedler, partner and senior solution leader at Periscope By McKinsey.

“To be successful with their personalisation efforts and reap the rewards, businesses should employ advanced analytics and scalable and sustainable solutions to better understand their consumers and create the right mix of content, channel and timing to drive a change in behaviour of an individual customer.”

Asked what motivates people most to act on a personalised communication, taking advantage of an offer that saves them money topped the list for consumers in the US (61 per cent), the UK (59 per cent), France (54 per cent) and Germany (49 per cent).

Messages about products they wanted to buy proved the next motivating factor for consumers in the US (47 per cent) and UK (45 per cent), followed by communications about products in their price range – 41 per cent in the US and UK.

Text messages stimulated high engagement levels with shoppers in Germany (57 per cent) and the UK (40 per cent), but it was communications sent via messaging apps like WhatsApp that got the most attention in these markets – UK shoppers reviewed 41 per cent of communications sent to them via this channel.

When consumers were given the option to select their top three preferred channels for receiving personalised messages, while email predominated in all countries surveyed, shoppers in the UK, US and Germany identified coupons linked to their loyalty cards as their second choice, followed by either WhatsApp (US and Germany) or adverts on Instagram (UK).

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