Will Work for Personalization

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Jul 26, 2004
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By John Hennessy

Internet Retailer had an item on July 19th regarding a survey on the value of online privacy. The survey was conducted by Zoomerang.

In exchange for a more personalized shopping experience, 64% of those who responded were willing to provide information about their preferences and 56% would provide demographic information.

The distribution wasn’t balanced, however. Seventy-one percent of 18 to 34-year-olds were willing to provide personal information, while only 57% of those 35 and older would.

Another difference was in the type of personalized content desired. Music, DVD and book recommendations were most interesting to 18 to 24-year-olds. Older respondents were looking
for web search results, books, news and travel.

Moderator’s Comment: What can marketers offer to shoppers on the personalization side of the value equation that would compel them to share their personal
information?

These numbers should be encouraging to marketers. However, I would contend that the number of customers willing to share private information for personalization
can be raised. I base my assertion on data from the survey and on an unscientific evaluation of the personalization side of the value equation.

The reason for the gap is experience. Compare the types of personalized content desired by the older and younger groups. The categories selected by younger
shoppers represent products that younger shoppers purchase frequently. These products also have characteristics that lend themselves to personalization and are sold by online
retailers who do an excellent job of using purchase history to provide personal recommendations. In short, the younger shoppers are enjoying an excellent personalized shopping
experience and want more of it.

Even when older shoppers use some of the same personalization-savvy retailers as younger shoppers, they are not shopping as frequently and so are not enjoying
the same personalized shopping experience. The other online channels selected by older shoppers do not offer the same level of personalization as retail sites. Older shoppers
are responding based on their experience. For them, they see little benefit in exchanging personal information. The value isn’t there.

As existing capabilities expand and new ones emerge, more shoppers will enjoy high levels of personalization and begin to see the value and convenience
in personalized services. Effort put toward improving the personalization side of the value equation will increase both the number of shoppers willing to share personal information
and the level of personalization that can be delivered.

Another way to read the gap between older and younger shoppers is that a retailer not offering a high quality, personal shopping experience will be obsolete.
Personalization is in high demand among younger shoppers.

John Hennessy – Moderator

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