If You Know Me, Show It: What Consumers Demand Of Personalization

Consumers have little patience with brands that either do not personalize their marketing or do it badly, judging by "The value of getting personalization right — or wrong — is multiplying," a report by McKinsey. 

Of the consumers polled, 71% expect personalization, and 76% get frustrated when it’s not there. 

Moreover, loyalty is up for grabs, with 75% of consumers having exhibited new shopping behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This wrap-up of McKinsey research shows that consumers want brands to show they know them on a personal level. That is done through actions like these, most of which can be accomplished in email: 

  • Make it easy for me to navigate in-store and online — 75% 
  • Give me relevant product/service recommendations — 67%
  • Tailor messaging to my needs — 66%
  • Offer me targeted promotions — 65%
  • Celebrate my milestones — 60%
  • Send me timely communications tied to key moments — 59%
  • Follow up with my post purchase — 58%
  • Personally address communications to me — 54%
  • Send triggers based on my behavior — 53%
  • Engage and onboard me when I buy for the first time — 51%
  • Show up in my frequently visited websites/apps — 40%



These types of personalization can influence buying behavior throughout the entire customer life cycle, the report continues. 

For instance, 78% of consumers are more likely to refer brands that personalize to friends and family. And 76% are more likely to consider purchasing and 78% to repurchase. 

Who’s good at it? Digitally native brands. These firms own customer transactions and product development and use first-party data in their decision-making. 

In contrast, brick-and-mortar retailers (of groceries and apparel, say) tend to own customer transactions but not product development. And first-party data is captured but mixed. 

Finally, brands without direct relationships with consumers (e.g., CPGs) typically do not own customer transactions, and have limited access to first-party data. 

As if it needs to be argued, McKinsey notes that personalization drives performance and better customer outcomes. Fast-growing firms derive “40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterpoints,” the authors write.

The authors are:

  • Nidhi Arora, a consultant in McKinsey’s San Francisco office,
  • Wei Wei Liu, an associate partner.
  • Kelsey Robinson and Eli Stein, partners. 
  • Daniel Ensslen, a consultant in the Boston office.
  • Lars Fiedler, a partner in the Hamburg office.
  • Gustavo Schüler, a partner in the Southern California office.


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