"With great power, there must also come--great responsibility!"
We work with some of the biggest brands around the world and will often play a key role in how our clients interact with their customers digitally. We have some of the most creative and brightest minds constantly innovating new ways to keep customers engaged across multiple touchpoints and looking for ways to create meaningful, valuable ongoing relationships. Which made me think, we also have the responsibility to play the role of the protective friend; and stop them from appearing creepy, overfamiliar or just all-out stalkerish.
I’ve worked in tech for over 13 years but, perhaps surprisingly, I don’t have an Alexa or Google Home as I worry about privacy issues (as do many others according to recent surveys). I’m uneasy at the idea of an Oyster card being able to track my whereabouts and I left Facebook about three years ago. So as much as I understand how tech and data collection works and I have quite a natural distrust in handing over my information, the irony is that I am prepared to embrace it if it makes my life much easier.
The Paradox - Consumers don’t want to share their data. They find personalization creepy but still want relevant offers.
I’m not alone. A recent consumer survey from Boxever found, “60% indicated they prefer offers that are targeted to where they are and what they are doing, but 62% said that they do not want retailers tracking their location.” A large-scale global study from Microsoft called The Consumer Data Value Exchange, highlighted a similar paradox and Gartner research has shown that the more data points marketers use to personalize communication, the more consumers perceive that communication as invasive.
Brands are caught in a catch-22. Companies like King are working hard to keep people hooked on the addictive quality of Candy Crush. On the contrary, Apple is creating services like Apple Screen Time to make people aware of their screen time and apply limits on apps. People want relevant offers. However, when retail giant Target, identified 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed them to assign shoppers with a “pregnancy prediction” score, they received lots of negative publicity. One father accused them of encouraging his teenage daughter to get pregnant by sending her coupons for baby items (he later apologized realizing that she was indeed pregnant). RichRelevance recently reviewed attitudes towards shopping experiences and the use of AI and ranked the top five “creepy” technologies, and whilst some of them may have been leading edge, such as emotion detection technology, most brands would probably think they should have strategies around voice assistants and geo-targeting as standard.
What’s the solution?
Not doing anything is not an option, poor personalization and lack of trust cost U.S. organizations $756 billion last year, as 41% of consumers switched companies according to Accenture. The gamble is significant, inmoment found that 75% of consumers surveyed found personalization to be creepy, but 72% of consumers say they will choose one brand over another if they are made to feel special, and 80% are willing to share personal information if they receive special or exclusive offers.