We (Marketers) See Personalization As A Customizing, Value-Building Communication and Experience Tool. What Do The Consumers Think?


Share on LinkedIn

There is increasing availability, and use, of large-scale personalization tools as a way to more intimately connect with today’s informed and selective b2b and b2c consumer. The sheer volume of untargeted daily push messaging being dumped onto consumers has created the need to break through all of this clutter, and communicate with value-producing content and messages that are as relevant and individually addressed as possible. In growing numbers, marketers have been utilizing these tools to craft customized marketing experiences for every member of their audience, irrespective of customer life stage.

If marketers know their target consumers, understand their experience journey, have or can create messages and content, and have a specific goal or goals, i.e. actions, that they desire, real-time personalization tools have the ability to make all of that happen.

For everyday examples of personalization, we need only look to the recommendations for purchase from companies like Netflix and Amazon. These targeted suggestions can come directly from the individual’s persona, location, browsing history, and previous selections and reviews. So, if a brand can leverage demographic (or firmographic in b2b) or lifestyle information with copy, images, offers, and/or calls to action to create a customized experience, that’s personalization.

Here’s the real question for marketers: How much do consumers want, and value, personalization? Though studies show that virtually all businesses now believe that personalization is essential to their success, other research indicates a disconnect for consumers. For example, a global study by Adobe showed that one-third of consumers find personalization valuable, but 42% were neutral, and 26% felt it was either not very valuable or not at all valuable.

The same survey revealed that 84% of consumers felt that there are too many technologies tracking and analyzing their behavior, and two-thirds said they found targeted advertising ‘creepy’. These are privacy issues; and, while, marketers believe that consumers want more customized engagement with brand, there is also growing concern among the general public that public and private institutions have too much personal data about them.

A recent study by Accenture Interactive found that four out of five consumers now believe that total data privacy is a thing of the past. Further, close to 90% believe that available safeguards do not protect their personal information. Today, with everyone aware of what occurred with customer purchase records at Target, the theft of over a billion online passwords by a Russian hacker gang, and the massive leaking of sensitive government information, trust-related privacy issues are a reality. Consumers are concerned about the information they share:

– Close to two-thirds worry about websites which track their purchasing behavior
– Over half would prefer to input their credit card data on a purchase-by-purchase basis, rather than having a website payment service store it
– Over seven out of ten consumers feel businesses are not transparent about how their personal information is being used.

In this study, over half of the consumers said they no longer wanted companies to track their behavior, even if it meant less relevant deals or information. While two-thirds said they would welcome targeted text messages while shopping in a store, but they were also concerned that their information would be abused by retailers. Similar concerns were expressed about non-retailing marketing efforts.

Real-time personalization has the power to multiply marketing’s return on investment. With that power, however, comes responsibility. In addition to other elements of value provision, marketers need to be proactive regarding consumer data privacy. This means, among other things, being transparent and using analytics in a more responsible manner. Mostly, well beyond having in-depth knowledge about their consumers, organizational priorities must continue to be building trust and creating positive, memorable experiences

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


  1. Hi Michael were thinking along same lines – I wrote a brief blog article on LinkedIn very similar to this which you may wish to check out – it is called CONSUMER POWER IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA -thanks for your article here, the more marketers and consumers learn about this issue the better for everyone.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here