Digital Transformation Data & Privacy Data

Data-powered personalization can create a symbiotic brand-consumer relationship

By Juliana Pereira, Chief marketing officer

November 18, 2022 | 10 min read

As part of The Drum’s Data and Privacy Deep Dive, Revieve’s Juliana Pereira argues that effective personalization is the key to incentivizing consumers to share their data with brands.

peanut butter and jelly

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With the upcoming cessation of third-party cookies, marketers and business leaders across all industries are being forced to navigate a new challenge: to continue building and improving their relationships with customers, they now need a new way to gather data. According to Epsilon research, about 80% of marketers still rely on third-party cookies, with 38% feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the news.

High consumer expectations are becoming larger issues for brands wanting to encourage more purchases and increase customer loyalty. Consumers will only place an order if they feel complete confidence in what they are buying by getting the value they expect. This expectation is prompting brands to shift their relationship with consumers to one that is reciprocal and beneficial to both sides.

Brands today are realizing the importance of relationship-driven commerce and are deploying personalized programs to create a ‘give and get’ scenario with their customers that allows them to gather zero- and first-party data. This is instrumental in deepening the customer and brand relationship, which is positive for the brand and also provides better service for customers.

This shift to relationship-driven commerce helps brands drive purchases and build loyalty. A Boston Consulting Group survey says that consumers today are “110% more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40% more likely to spend more than they had planned” when their shopping experience is hyper-personalized. And we at Revieve have seen that this correlates directly to loyalty growth and repeat purchases.

Delivering personalization at scale is imperative. Customers interact with brands in a myriad of ways and expect an individualized approach across every brand touchpoint. Let’s take a moment to dig a little deeper into the different ways that personalization advances business success.

Strengthening the brand-customer relationship

Personalization allows consumers to develop their preferences and make informed purchase decisions. It ensures the consumer feels recognized as an individual rather than being clustered into a group by generation, age group or gender. It provides individual recognition. Consumers are learning that brands can anticipate their needs if they provide those businesses with data. By sharing their data, consumers allow brands to create these bespoke experiences for them to enjoy. And consumers can feel more confident that their data is used appropriately to their benefit since they provided it willingly to the brand for a better experience in return.

In digital environments that lack a human touch, the best way for brands to personalize the customer journey is through the collection and analysis of data to inform their recommendations to customers. The more data collected, the better for the customer. This is where the symbiotic relationship emerges.

By gathering zero-party data, brands are empowered to deliver continuously improved personalization. For example, in a category as personal as beauty, brands can gather and analyze data from variables like skin types, hair color, beauty preferences, etc, to provide consumers with specific advice and information tailored to and relevant to them. Because customers are providing their information of their own accord, they are training the brands to provide even better recommendations and advice on addressing their concerns.

This data trade creates a seamless interdependent relationship: customers provide their information freely to inform the brands on how to provide better experiences for them, and brands now have additional information from their customers to continuously provide better recommendations and advice. As both sides continue this exchange, the customer experience improves and the relationship between both sides is strengthened. This builds loyalty and trust, and ultimately, is a win-win scenario.

Personalization as a driver for brand differentiation

Personalization can also be a key avenue for developing brand differentiation. According to a data report from McKinsey, 71% of consumers today expect brands to deliver personalized experiences, and 76% become displeased when this doesn’t happen. Brands can use personalization as a competitive advantage to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

When a brand makes the customer experience convenient and delightful, the chances of a customer returning are higher. Personalization programs that collect first- and zero-party data help improve those odds. And what should underlie an engaging customer experience is a brand strategy that emphasizes building symbiotic relationships with consumers. This type of relationship can set brands apart because it’s based on responding to customer needs, fulfilling their expectations and making them feel valued. It takes the brand-customer relationship to the next level. But unfortunately, creating this type of relationship isn’t as easy as it sounds, and few brands are doing it right.

In beauty retail, many brands have set a new baseline for their customer experience, one that blends online and offline experiences to provide customers with a seamless and tailored customer journey through every channel. However, this requires the use of digital tools to enable a consistent digital and in-store experience to deploy AI-powered product recommendations or quizzes to uncover precisely what the customer wants and needs. The brands that can offer this level of customization for each individual customer can secure their place as leaders in the space by setting themselves apart through a truly customer-centric approach.

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Exceeding customer expectations

Customers are complex individuals with rich, varied stories. Figuring out how to start a dialogue with them is a step toward providing customers with what they want from a brand. According to a recent study by Accenture, 83% of consumers are willing to share their information so that brands will create a personalized experience for them. But businesses must be transparent about how they will use this data and that customers have control over it. In addition, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that “recognize, remember, and provide” relevant offers and recommendations. Consumers need to get something in return for sharing their data with a brand – otherwise, why would they do it? There needs to be something in it for them.

A brand that remembers consumers when they return to their site and recognizes their preferences makes customers feel special. In fact, I truly believe that personalization is about respect. It’s proper manners to recognize that people are different and unique when you interact with them. Just as you don’t treat each in-store customer in exactly the same way, brands shouldn’t treat online customers like clones. Making consumers feel like true individuals will increase their propensity to become repeat buyers.

Henry Ford famously stated, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.“ Customers are quick to describe their problems but aren’t always as adept at finding solutions. Customers might recognize something is missing from their shopping experience but not actually know what it is. That’s where brands can step in and really shine. This is the moment where brands can exceed customers’ expectations and provide them with what they need and what they didn’t even know they needed yet. And personalization is what can drive brands to take that proactive approach. This can impress even the most discerning customer.

What’s next?

Personalization is often a factor that brands don’t fully address. And yet, it can be the magic to better understand their customers and give them exactly what they have been wanting, even if they haven’t thought to ask for it. Data plays a critical role, but the exchange must go both ways so both sides benefit. As long as brands can instill confidence in consumers to volunteer their personal information to get something in return, then brands can forge a symbiotic relationship that has greater benefits in the long run. And that approach is what can truly create the best scenario for both customers and brands alike.

Juliana Pereira is the chief marketing officer at Revieve. For more on how the world of data-driven advertising and marketing is evolving, check out our latest Deep Dive.

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