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Marketing is becoming ultra-personal – and consumers seem to like it, study shows

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Personalised marketing has moved beyond merely understanding the individual consumer, to the point of building personalisation based on country-specific, age and gender attitudes – as a well as characteristics and attributes that convey the communication to feel personal to different audiences, reveals the new study from Periscope by McKinsey.

In all markets surveyed, more than 50% of customers reveal that they frequently receive personalised messages, finds the same body of research, which questioned consumers across US, UK, Germany and France to help retailers understand how to achieve a sustainable growth via personalisation.

Conversely, respondents in the US and France receive the most personalised communication, with 62% and 60% of consumers, respectively, in comparison to clientele in Germany and the UK followed by 55% and 53%.

Overall, consumers reveal a positive attitude to receiving personalised messages from retailers. 

Consumers in the US report positive feelings towards communication sent to them, with 50% say they “really” or “somewhat” liking getting them-demonstrating a green-light for retailers to connect with their audience.

French and UK customers appear to be less enthusiastic, with 38% and 37% respectively, feeling “somewhat” or “very favourable.” Whereas, consumers in Germany were more sceptical, with less than a third (29%) having an affirmative attitude towards personalised messaging.

The report goes on to say that gender plays an important role when it comes to crafting a personalised piece of communication.

As it appears, men in the US (56%) and Germany (33%) are more approving of getting their inbox inundated with these type of messages in comparison to women, with 44% and 25%, respectively.

The picture is entirely different in the UK and France. In fact, 39% of French and British women equally say they either “somewhat” or “very much” like to get targeted with personalised communication, as contrasted to 37% of French and 35% of British male consumers.

Age also impacts the frame of mind towards personalised marketing. With the exception of Germany, clientele aged 30-39 welcome personalisation, followed by respondents of the 18-29 age cohort. The older generation, being less digitally-savvy demonstrated a significantly stronger dislike of this type of communication.

When asked from which companies consumers would like to receive personalised messages, in the US 51% of consumers say grocery stores, followed by restaurants and bars (49%) as well as fashion retailers (36%). The UK also tracked these findings at 44%, 40% and 33%, respectively.

It is a different view in Germany, where the top three categories change, with 29% opted for grocery stores, fashion retailers followed at 28%, and then hotels, airlines and car rental companies at 25%. 

Interestingly, while specific categories of retailers are currently sending more personalised marketing content than others, the survey findings show that some kind of retailers would be better served to reduce the number of messages they sent, while others may be missing on the potential personalised messaging could deliver to them.

Retailers have a long way to go on getting personalised, the report concludes. Fewer than a half (40%) of all surveyed consumers stating messages received only “sometimes” captured the characteristics that would make them personal – this is a red flag for retailers– and a massive opportunity for them to get it right.

While the number of respondents who said these messages rarely or never fit these characteristics outweighed those who said they usually or often do in almost all the markets, the US proved to be the exception.

Some 31% of American consumers say that the “usually” or “always” find messages they receive relevant, as compared to 23% who said they “rarely” or “never do.” In comparison, in France, a mere 19% of respondents note that they “usually” or “always” receive personalised messages that are relevant, with 38% of respondents feeling the messages they receive are “rarely” or “never” relevant.

A mere 18% of British and 17% of German consumers report that they “usually” or “always” receive messages that are relevant, with 33% and 36%, respectively, noting that they “rarely” or “never” receive relevant messages.

It is clear from the research that consumers in different countries need to be approached differently when it comes to personalised marketing. 

In fact, the US consumers said the top three attributes to influencing personalisation are: when a business offers items that are a good fit for their personal style, relate to items they frequently purchased, and when messaging tied to a special occasion. However, German consumers feel communications are most personal when they include pieces that fit their style, their name and that reference a recent search they made.

France and the UK were distinct again. In the UK consumers ranked seeing their name, something tied to a particular occasion and an offer that suits their style, as the top attributes. While French consumers selected in priority order, linked to a special event, an offer that matches their style and their name, as their top three personalisation criteria.

“Personalisation initiatives can deliver significant value, including on average 10-30% revenue uplift and higher customer acquisition rates and engagement. But the key is that they must be done right,” says Julien Boudet, the global leader of McKinsey’s work in personalisation.

Boudet adds: “What’s clear from the findings is that companies are missing the boat on delivering consistently relevant experiences at scale.”

He concludes: “In order for businesses to be successful with their personalisation efforts, they should employ advanced analytics and solutions to understand their consumers better and manage effectively targeting tradeoffs to drive a change in behaviour. If they don’t do this, they risk alienating audiences which in turn impacts brand reputation and customer loyalty.”

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