Data, hyper-personalisation and today’s consumer – let’s not forget the excitement


thought leadership

The dentsu Shopper DNA report identified Brand Engineered Serendipity as a key micro trend impacting the future of retail. Here we look into how a human touch can bring a little everyday excitement for today’s consumers in a hyper-personalised world.

As humans, we’re hardwired to seek exciting experiences. It’s part of our DNA. But as consumers, we also continue to demand personalised and tailored shopping experiences. This has become part of our consumer DNA.

So, the question is, can the two co-exist? Are excitement and personalisation mutually exclusive? Or is the future simply one of hyper-personalisation, without the excitement?

Data, AI and the possibilities for consumers

The use of data and AI brings plenty of benefits for brands and consumers. Brands can move in real-time. They can truly understand who each customer is and how they evolve over time. As well as automating routine tasks and enhancing promotions and merchandising, there is now a real opportunity to deliver better and more engaging customer experience through a data-driven approach.

This idea of hyper-personalisation is improving the lives of consumers today. Take beauty and personal care as an example. In the next 10 years, it’s predicted that 11% of consumers will have used a beauty service that creates personalised cosmetics based on their skin type. This will be as high as 26% among women in their 20s.

This year we’ve already seen the emergence of companies such as Skin Trust Club, a skin testing and recommendation service. The company enables customers to send completed home skin swab test to a lab for analysis. The results are used to deliver personalised skincare product recommendations, taking into account the customer’s exact skin type, UV count, level of air pollution and weather data.

Consumers are also become more willing to part with their DNA and biometric data where it benefits them. Take wearable clothing for example. Brands such as Prevayl are already innovating in the area of wearables that collect biometric data for real-time health insights.

The next decade promises to be one of true hyper-personalisation. But is it for everyone? And what about the excitement?

As humans we’re programmed to find excitement in the little things 

Today, consumers are yearning for excitement. In fact, a third of UK consumers in 2020 said that they wanted to be more adventurous – as high as 44% across the 16-24s. Whether going to new places, trying new things or even reading something they usually wouldn’t, excitement can come from all places.

So, let’s take our brand hat off for a second. As people, we all love a recommendation. That unexpected book you loved but would have never chosen for yourself. That spot on holiday the couple at the next table recommended. That tiny unassuming restaurant, that your colleague told you just couldn’t be missed.

These recommendations will all have come from people. And they bring a little everyday excitement to brighten up the day-to-day.

Brands can provide this. And it all comes back to our nature as people. We’re social beings and we love a recommendation from our friends. Brands are already starting to tap into this. We’ve seen HBO push against the algorithmic approach of Netflix through their Recommended by Humans website, which features peer-to-peer recommendations. Yet whilst this unexpected treat from HBO may stand in opposition to a data-led strategy, it doesn’t have to.

And it all comes back to how data should be used in the first place. For the benefit of the customer.

Putting data to work for the customer

If data is put to work for the customer – as well as the brand – users will always be willing to give it. It’s all about value, and in this case the value of the unexpected.

The question for brands is whether they can find a route to offer managed serendipity. Creating elements of surprise that are still tailored to a customer’s life-stage, lifestyles, likes and dislikes in some form. Take the example of being recommended books that you wouldn’t usually read, which is definitely something a peer would do. Can this be provided through a data-led approach? It requires a deep understanding of that person; for example, their reading habits, purchase history, likes and dislikes.

The beginning of this approach is starting to be adopted by brands, today. One example is UK retail app MallZee, who in May 2020 launched Lost Stock, an initiative designed to support garment workers in Bangladesh by selling excess stock from cancelled orders.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many clothing retailers cancelled orders from suppliers due to a drop in demand. This left workers without income and factories with large amounts of excess stock. With Lost Box, shoppers pay £35 for a package of three mystery items of clothing normally worth £75, including t-shirts, shirts and blouses. Customers are invited to complete a questionnaire before purchase to ensure items will fit them and their style, but otherwise what they receive is a surprise.

That’s personalisation covered with an element of surprise too. And it can be something that all brands can achieve. With a deep understanding of their customers and a little creative thinking, brand engineered serendipity can become a day-to-day reality. With many consumers pushing back against hyper-personalisation in the next 10 years, it feels like it has to become an everyday occurrence.

Download the Dentsu Shopper DNA Report

Consumers are changing and the opportunities around technology for retail brands are increasing. So, what does this mean for the future of retail in the next 10 years?

In the Dentsu Shopper DNA Report, we discuss the key macro and micro trends that are set to shape the world of retail. Within Retail in the age of Bigger Bolder Brands we discuss the growing opportunities of Playful Purchasing for retail brands in the gaming space. So, what are the implications for brands in the next two to five years? Download the Retail in the age of Bigger Bolder Brands chapter of the Shopper DNA report to find out.