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Getting personalization right

3 Jul 2020

Personalization has been a trend for over a decade, yet companies still struggle to get it right. This post explores the evolution of personalization towards a more advanced form of ‘hyper-personalization.’ It also discusses the key factors that are the reason why organizations still, after ten years, are not able to treat their customers as individuals.

Right message to the right individual, in the right place and time

Personalization done right creates a highly relevant and intimate interaction between a brand and a consumer. To accomplish this, a company needs to leverage insights on personal, contextual and behavioral data of their consumers (or similar individuals) to deliver an experience that meets customer needs under all circumstances. It all boils down to being able to cater to a specific individual with the right message, in the right place and at the right time.

Personalization can be applied throughout the customer lifecycle. In the awareness and consideration phase, you may have seen ads of products based on your recent internet searches or product recommendations similar to your past purchases – this is personalization. When contemplating whether to buy those trendy new sneakers, you might have received an email that greeted you by name and asked if you wanted to get back to the cart you had abandoned and complete your order – this is personalization. Once you get to wearing your new sneakers, there could be a sentiment-detecting customer service chatbot to address your potential questions. Moreover, to foster loyalty, you might be treated with exclusive deals and messages about new product releases – this is also personalization. Ideally, the customer journey is tailor-made for you, in all phases and interactions.

Welcome to the era of hyper-personalization

It is only recently that interactions between brands and consumers have become possible on a truly individual level. In its early forms, personalization meant taking advantage of templates to create targeted customer communication, and segmenting people into groups based on certain attributes. In recent years, new areas of technology and business such as geo-location, face recognition, conversational commerce, augmented reality, AI and machine learning have created means to make the experiences far more dynamic, contextual, predictive and even proactive. And there is more in store for consumers. We are looking at an era of hyper-personalization.

A win-win for consumers and companies

This technological shift, where we have gone from transactional one-size-fits-all experiences towards hyper-personalized experiences, has also altered consumer expectations.

According to the Salesforce ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report (2019), 73% of customers expect companies to know and understand their individual needs and expectations. At the same time, 64% of customers expect the companies to also act on the information they possess and to provide them with tailored engagements based on past interactions. The report also highlights that approximately the same portion would even be willing to pay extra for an exceptional experience.

Some of the most sought-after benefits by the consumers are high relevancy and added convenience, as discovering meaningful products and content is made effortless for them. Personalization also tends to enable smoother interactions with brands thanks to consistency across touchpoints and the availability of swift personal support. Meeting customer expectations such as the above also proves beneficial to companies; efforts in this area could translate into higher customer lifetime value through improved conversion, increased cross and upsell, higher customer satisfaction and improved loyalty.

Aren’t all companies already on top of it?

There are many well-known companies that are great at providing their customers with individualized brand experiences. Netflix is an obvious example, with their recommendation engine that most of us have fallen victims to. And companies such as Starbucks, Nike, Disney and Sephora, to name a few, also have made good use of personalization elements. These range from loyalty apps providing individualized offers and releases, online services to personalize physical goods, augmented reality features to try on products, geo-location capabilities and predictive analytics to personalize entire on-site consumer experiences.

However, despite all the successful use cases out there, most companies still fall short of the customer expectations. According to Salesforce (2019), 52% of customers report that the companies they interact with feel impersonal.

At the same time, companies worry about not having adequate skills to enable personalization. According to the 2019 Gartner Marketing Symposium polls 60% of marketing professionals feel that they do not have an effective strategy and roadmap to make it happen. This dilemma can easily lead to situations where the efforts just end up going awfully wrong. Unfortunate examples are sadly numerous, such as Mother’s Day greetings being sent to women struggling with infertility, due to a poor personalization attempt.

Effective personalization relies on mastering skills across the marketing functions

Providing each consumer with the right message, at the right time and place is complicated. Old segmentation and persona-based targeting methods are simply not sophisticated enough to manage the great variety and detail of individual needs and preferences. Sophistication requires a more complex marketing engine. At Capgemini Invent we believe that an organization’s ability to personalize effectively relies on mastering skills across the marketing functions: marketing strategy, execution and enablement.

A company lacking the required skills at the level of marketing strategy will find it challenging to specify the objectives and roadmap towards personalization or justify it with a business case. Contrarily, they could have a good understanding of the commercial context and have a vision in place, yet may lack an organizational set-up for cross-functional coordination or agile processes.

Sometimes the barriers are related to shortcomings in execution, such as a lack of competent individuals to operate the existing MarTech applications and turn data into meaningful insights. On the other hand, the struggles may result from a poor (or non-existent) content management solution that makes it virtually impossible to maintain and deliver personalized content to each consumer.

The very foundation of personalization is constituted by data and technology. Even if there is a huge amount of data collected and stored, the inability to aggregate it and make it automatically actionable is a major obstacle for many organizations.

It’s time for personalization to become a priority

To sum up, the barriers that companies face on the path to personalization may vary. Only when all the boxes are checked can they effectively deliver meaningful tailored experiences to the consumers and meet ever-evolving expectations. Although striving towards the more advanced levels of hyper-personalization might not be a relevant aim for all organizations, companies ought to start assessing their maturity, setting simple, feasible goals and building relevant skill sets to stay ahead of competition.

If you would like to discuss personalization in general, identify what steps your organization can take to improve personalization or better understand the services that Capgemini Invent Brand & Experience can provide for your business, please contact Peter Rosenberg.


Peter Rosenberg
Director &
Head of Marketing Transformation
Capgemini Invent Sweden & Finland
Julia Gudmundson
Marketing Transformation
Capgemini Invent Sweden & Finland
Anna Juselius
Marketing Transformation
Capgemini Invent Sweden & Finland