Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Personalisation takes on new urgency as consumer expectations outpace experiences

 Twilio Segment, the customer data platform (CDP), today published its State of Personalisation Report for 2021. The report, which reflects findings from a survey of 3,000 consumers and business decision-makers in online retail and e-commerce in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, reveals a gap between consumer expectations and the experiences brands are actually offering. 

The study was conducted in the wake of a dramatic industry shift sparked by the global pandemic. In the last 15 months, lockdowns left businesses with a stark choice: go digital, or go bust. 

“Personalisation, which was once only offered by the world’s most cutting-edge companies, is now a basic expectation for consumers. They want the brands they interact with to be available on multiple channels and to remember who they are, where they’re coming from, and what their preferences are,” said Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Twilio Segment. “Put simply, in today’s world, brands that cannot deliver true personalisation will lose customers and revenue to those that can.” 

UK findings: Personalisation takes on new urgency as consumer expectations outpace experiences

As organisations were forced online by the pandemic, consumer expectations also shifted, and the quality of digital experiences became a priority for businesses and consumers alike. 

Offering personalised digital experiences – where each customer receives customised communications and a tailored, consistent experience across a brand’s channels – is no longer just a nice-to-have. Businesses and consumers agree: 73% of UK businesses believe personalisation is table stakes, while over half (56%) of UK consumers say personalisation improves the customer experience.

However, most businesses aren’t offering the one-to-one, personalised experiences that consumers have come to expect. Only 64% of UK consumers find their retail shopping experience to be personalised, and as a result, customer loyalty is on the line:

  • More than half (60%) of UK consumers say they’re likely to become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience with a retailer;
  • More than a third (37%) say they’ll shop with a brand again if they’ve had a good experience, even if cheaper or more convenient options are available; 
  • 84% of UK customers have been frustrated by a shopping experience that hasn’t changed even after they’ve provided negative feedback;
  • After an unpersonalised experience, nearly half (44%) say they’re less likely to buy again from a brand – and close to a third (26%) will stop shopping with them altogether. 

Consumers expect personalisation across all channels 

73% of British consumers expect a personal and consistent customer experience across multiple channels, both physical and digital. Yet few businesses have both the technology and business resources to create a consistent, personalised omnichannel experience. 

Only 14% of UK e-commerce and retail businesses say they are investing successfully in omnichannel personalisation, and 21% say they don’t see the ROI in investing in omnichannel experiences. 

Given a choice, 55% of UK consumers say they’d prefer fewer, better channels when shopping with a brand. With consumers choosing fewer channels to engage, brands are challenged to deliver high-quality personalisation across all channels so they can meet the consumers where they are.

Part of the difficulty for brands is a lack of accurate, real-time customer data — 39% of organisations say it’s the biggest challenge to their personalisation efforts. To power the omnichannel experiences that consumers expect, businesses need to invest in technology that has a holistic view of the different customer touchpoints, and use that real-time data to continually engage customers.

Personalised experiences and data privacy aren’t mutually exclusive

While consumers have heightened expectations for personalisation, they also expect brands to prioritise their privacy. UK consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how businesses are using their personal data, and are demanding the highest standards of privacy from every organisation they interact with. More than half (51%) say trustworthiness and transparency are the most important traits they look for in a brand. And brands are on the right track — 82% of UK businesses say they are using at least some first-party data (data collected directly from a company’s interactions with its customers) to personalize the customer experience.

69% of UK consumers say they are fine with personalisation, so long as it’s data they’ve shared with a business directly. But they do expect a benefit in return for sharing their data. For example, 46% expect to receive a relevant discount within 24 hours after identifying themselves to a brand. 

Twilio Segment’s CEO, Peter Reinhardt, added: “The data in the State of Personalisation Report makes it clear that brands only face two choices: personalise or perish. The digital acceleration sparked by the pandemic has created a new reality and new expectations. If brands don’t take this seriously, customers will walk away.”