Will Gen Zers push personalization toward individualization?
According to a study from the IBM Institute for Business Value, Gen Zers find value provided at an individualized level — such as when it is delivered through promotions and offers that match individual Gen Zers’ specific needs and desires — as more important than personalized experiences shaped by the brand.
The study, done in collaboration with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and based on survey of 15,600 Gen Zers from 16 countries, said that while individualization and personalization are similar concepts, they are initiated differently:
- Personalization: Driven by the brand to tailor consumer shopping experiences based on known customer segment preferences, behaviors and history.
- Individualization: Driven by consumers, enabling them to initialize and customize their own singular shopping experiences.
The study found digitally-driven Gen Zers wants to actively share their opinions, collaborate and co-create with brands.
Recommendations included empowering Gen Zers to create their own experiences, including designing their own products.
A second suggestion was to deploy tools and services to enable Gen Zers to get involved and experiment with new programs and existing initiatives. IBM writes, “Reward them for their feedback with direct benefits at an individual level. Apply data, deep analytics and cognitive insights to engage with them authentically and contextually.”
Finally, brands are urged to mine social media to identify shopping preferences, purchasing trends and other consumer insights at an individual level.
“Engage in an ongoing, sustained dialogue with them,” IBM researchers recommend. “Connect with them in real time: provide enhanced mobile functionality, incorporating AI agents — such as chatbots or virtual assistants — that can dynamically learn from data captured in each interaction and deliver customized services, resolutions to issues and informed purchasing options.”
Individualization appears to be a newer buzzword invented to encourage brands to move personalization beyond segmentation and broad demographics to granularly understanding individual needs and their context across the shopper journey.
Wrote Roland Gossage, CEO of GroupBy, a search and navigation solutions provider, in an article for Multichannel Merchant, “With specific, on-brand contextualized messaging unique to each shopper, each message becomes more personal, captivating and relevant based upon a shopper’s click, search and purchase history.”
- What Do Gen Z Shoppers Really Want? (Press Release) – National Retail Federation
- What do Gen Z shoppers really want? (Study) – National Retail Federation
- Individualization is the Next Step in Advanced Personalization – Multichannel Merchant
- 4 trends retailers should be prepared for this year – Retail Customer Service
- Personalization Is a Priority for Retailers, but Can Online Vendors Deliver? – Adweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Gen Z demanding more individualized shopping experiences? If so, what will that entail that doesn’t exist today? How do you see the distinction between “personalization” and “individualization” in consumer marketing?