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When does personalization become intrusion?

When does personalization become intrusion?

During our recent Fujitsu Retail Webinar on September 29th, a member of the audience asked a very pertinent question: When does personalization become intrusion? Our data is collected and then used to offer us goods and services. Retailers know that consumers want to be treated in a personal and friendly way. So, the data is analyzed and manipulated to create a sense that the retailer (or any other organization) really knows you. And that can get creepy. We know you like blue shirts… holidays in Spain… football… tennis… old Bob Dylan recordings… bingeing on Netflix… drinking lots of beer… having a big over-draft… and talking to divorce lawyers. I’m exaggerating, but… not much.

Clearly, by the end of that list any consumer will start to get the feeling that they’re being watched.

And they are. All of those elements could be revealed by parsing the data generated by that specific person (who is fictional, honestly!). But my point is a simple one: you have to be careful how you use analytics, and especially how you use the data to interact with consumers.

In fact, as the research that our partner on the webinar, Planet Retail, revealed, consumers want to be rewarded not just for their loyalty but their co-operation: they let you gather and use their data, but there has to be something in it for them. In fact, their research showed that 58% of consumers say that their choice of store (online or in the real world) is influenced by rewards for loyalty, which could be regular discounts or points etc.

Millennials are more relaxed about their data being used, but they too are wary of any organization that goes too far.

The famous example is Target in the USA, which tracked the purchases of a teen and then sent her coupons for baby-clothes. The data suggested she’d become pregnant. And it was right. Only she was 15, and hadn’t told her father – who got the coupons in the mail.

The point is to get data on attitudes to the use of personal data. You have to research your demographics. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t take Millennials for granted – even they have a line they don’t want crossed. It’s vital you have the technology to get the data, and the platforms to analyze it and make profitable use of it. But do it openly. Give something back to the consumer. Don’t make it too transactional – make it human. It’s all part of creating and sustaining a relationship with consumers. Which is the secret of good retail anyway.

Tune in for our next Retail Webinar with Planet Retail on January 12th 2017 when we’ll be talking about how retailers survive and thrive in a disruptive retail market. Register now.

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