Brands that Take Personalization Too Far

brands personalization creepyThere’s a fine line between personalization and being creepy. And, according to a report, brands are aware in many cases they are crossing that line.

A survey from InMoment, a customer experience provider, shows that 40% of brands surveyed admit personalization is creepy. Despite this awareness, brands continue to aggressively pursue personalization as the holy grail to convert consumers into buyers.

And while consumers express a desire to buy from brands that know and understand them, the InMoment survey shows consumers will also take swift action when they feel marketing efforts venture into the creepy territory.

Consumers Have Strong Feelings

US consumers feel strongly about invasive personalization tactics.Three-quarters of those polled found some marketing tactics invasive and creepy. According to InMoment, more than half (51%) of consumers take some form of action when personalization goes awry. Twenty-two percent will switch companies or brands, 21% tell their friends, and 20% stop using the brand altogether.

This has real-world repercussions that are costly for brands. According to an Accenture study, “poor personalization and lack of trust” had caused 41% of US consumers to defect from a company. The firm estimates this led to a $756 billion loss in brand and retail sales last year.

A Big Disconnect

And while the brands acknowledge their efforts often border on invasive, there is a still a disconnect about the effects of negative experiences. Brands assumed consumers would be frustrated (44% of brands vs. 34% of consumers) and disappointed (38% of brands vs. 20% of consumers). Meanwhile, while consumers say they get angry (23% of consumers vs. 12% of brands) or stop doing business with a company (23% of consumers vs. 6% of brands) based on those invasive tactics, according to the InMoment report.

When it comes to positive brand experiences, 68% of consumers reported having had them in the past year while brands said that 84% of their customers had positive experiences. In terms of what delivers those positive experiences, respondents valued personalization in the forms of exclusive content or a VIP treatment but seemed to care less when it only made interactions easier or when they received personalized recommendations, according to the survey.

Privacy is the Issue

A Retail Systems Research (RSR) survey, sponsored by Esri, corroborates that companies are aware of their use of potentially offensive marketing tactics. For the US retailers, the second-most-cited barrier to using location-based analytics was the “creepiness” of tracking (47%). This was followed very closely by consumer privacy concerns (46%).

The European Union (EU) is addressing privacy concerns with impending and stringent privacy regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is intended to protect the privacy of EU citizens by regulating how any company collects, stores and processes any personal information of an EU resident.

As marketers continue to search for the balance between personalization and creepy, they will need to further acknowledge and respect consumers’ concerns. This is the only way to deliver the relevant experiences consumers desire without turning them off.