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Study: Consumers Are Creeped Out, And Brands Know It Too

Take a moment and think honestly about your marketing process. Was there ever a time you thought your tactics crossed
the line?

Personalization is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Studies have shown consumers are more receptive to communication that’s tailored to their interests. It can strengthen conversion, referrals, and foster brand loyalty.

The struggle is, well, doing it right. And that’s harder than it seems.

InMoment’s latest CX Trends Report shows that around 75 percent of consumers find most forms of personalization “somewhat creepy.” On top of that, 40 percent of brands admitted they felt their own communications were a little creepy, too.

Brennan Wilkie, InMoment SVP, customer experience strategy & country manager, Canada, says the biggest challenge for brands is to find that perfect balance.

“The ability to personalize allows a more personal connection with consumers – it’s the building blocks for more interpersonal relationships,” Wilkie said. “That’s where there’s real challenges – companies don’t realize when they cross the line. I think it starts with self-awareness.”

Consumers are becoming more aware

Personalization isn’t a new concept, and it’s come a long way from just addressing someone by their first name in an email. Now, marketers can customize based on thousands of different data points, capitalizing on moments in real-time.

Millennials, who are notably tech-savvy, know what brands are doing. They understand, to a certain extent, how their information’s being used to advertise. Their customer experiences often dictate whether they choose to share their data (or continue to interact) with a specific brand.

And it’s easy to turn them off.

Case study: Netflix vs. Spotify

Let’s rewind back to December 2017. Year’s end is a time when companies dive into their annual “Year in Review” and “Predictions” posts we’ve all grown accustomed to (believe us, we did it too). This is a time when companies comb through their data, curate, and showcase their best of the best for the entire year.

Spotify is known for their highly-shareable “Your Year In Music” campaign. Spotify analyzes your profile and tells you which songs, bands and genres you listened to most throughout the year. The streaming music service also launched a “Year in Preview” campaign, which pointed out specific data trends from users. This campaign was well-received.

Netflix, who used the same tactics, fell short. The media streaming service received harsh criticism for this tweet, which was deemed “creepy” on Twitter, and even made headlines.

So, why was Spotify so successful, as Netflix fell flat? Wilkie says the biggest difference lies in how the two companies used personal data to connect with customers. Spotify provided a resource for their audience to discover something about themselves, and the music they listened to. Netflix, on the other hand, used data to segment their audiences in a way that they may not have felt comfortable with.

“There has to be some benefit, there has to be some value coming back. And if there’s nothing coming back, it’s that ‘one-way street’ that starts to become uncomfortable for consumers,” Wilkie said.

It can be difficult to get it right every time. But as personalization continues to become more sophisticated, Wilkie urges brands to take a closer look at their customer experience.

“What’s concerning to me is that even though consumers have said they’ve had ‘creepy’ experiences in the past year, many brands said they don’t plan to do anything about it,” Wilkie said. “That, to me, is creating passive dissatisfaction – they’re basically saying ‘we got away with it’ or ‘well, we tried.’”

“Consumers have much more emotional experiences with brands then they give them credit for.”

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