The revolution will be personalised

Social media has shattered the barrier between personal and public life for good. Relationships with consumers have altered beyond recognition – to the extent that the word ‘consumer’ is no longer sufficient to the task. People refuse to simply be fed content, preferring to create their own news and entertainment, via their own social empires. 

Powerful devices and networks allow consumers to build a universe unique to their own tastes and expectations. They knowingly trade personal information in a public space – and in return, they’re surrounded by algorithms that learn what they think, feel and want.

This increasingly bespoke digital universe informs the way we consume across sectors. Look at the way you watch TV. Most of us remember a time when you had to walk across the room to flick between four available channels. Now, in the era of Netflix, your TV politely asks what you want to watch and scurries off to fetch it for you. The power to set the agenda rests in the hands of the consumer – and this transfer is only set to accelerate.

A recent consumer review by Deloitte found that an average 36% of consumers were interested in personalised products and services – with 22% willing to part with personal data in order to make it happen. Perhaps most surprisingly, 1 in 5 of these are happy to pay up to 20% premium for the personal approach.

While many commentators hail personalised marketing as the strategy of the future, we can perhaps learn more if we recognise it as a return to earlier values. In fact, before the era of mass-produced, off the shelf consumer goods, almost everything we bought was bespoke: from shoes to furniture, credit and banking. While globalisation has offered the consumer a staggering range of choice and value, its anonymity leaves brands with a challenge: how to re-engineer the powerful emotional connection of a personal experience, for consumers who are more demanding than ever before.

It’s anything but a complex strategy. Ask Coca Cola. Their “Share a Coke” campaign (AKA “write their name on it then sit back and watch them advertise for you on social media”) hit the UK in April 2013.  You know how it goes: Coca-Cola grew its Facebook community in the UK by 3.5% and globally by 6.8%.

Our 2014 campaign for Pepsi Max went one step further, enabling consumers to have their very own 'selfie' uploaded on to bottles of Pepsi Max.

Last year, brands like Nutella and Marmite cashed in on the trend, launching a series of bespoke pop-up experiences; offering consumers the chance to have their names printed on jars. A simple concept, that sent consumers ‘nuts’ for customisation.

Pepsi MAX Tier 1 Thursday 6 Mar (27)

Your product may not be as tangible as a pot of Marmite (love it or hate it). But whatever the offering, in the age of analytics you’ve never been better equipped to measure what your consumer wants, and give it to them. Speak personally to your target market in 2016, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty in years to come.