Why Personalization Matters

Show people what they want, and they will come 

Author: Rimma Kats

May 1, 2018

Do consumers want personalization? Yes. But are they experiencing it? Not really.

A January 2018 survey by Bazaarvoice polled more than 1,000 US digital shoppers who self-identified as having digitally shopped in the past month for products in various verticals, including apparel and accessories, as well as home improvement.

But while many said personalized homepages that showcase the products they may be looking for—or might like—are useful, few said they experienced this.

For example, 52% of digital shoppers looking for sporting goods products said they would like to see a personalized page showcasing them. Yet just 29% said they experienced such a homepage. Similarly, while 44% of respondents said a personalized apparel homepage is helpful, just 23% said they’ve experienced it. And that was the case for all categories analyzed.

While not ideal, it’s also not unforeseen. For many marketers, personalization is challenging. Indeed, more than eight in 10 US senior decision-makers surveyed by customer experience agency Verndale agreed that the technology’s potential has not been fully realized. A separate study by Sailthru found that marketers need resources to achieve personalization.

By and large, the personalization code hasn’t been cracked yet. A September 2017 survey by RIS News found that US retailers face many hurdles—ranging from a lack of advanced technologies to the inability to measure effectiveness—when it comes to improving their personalization capabilities.

Improving these capabilities is necessary, because failure can be costly. According to a survey from Accenture, 41% of US consumers said they ditched a company because of "poor personalization and lack of trust." Speaking in financial terms, that equated to $756 billion in lost retail and brand sales in 2017 in the US alone. Globally, that figure was $2.5 trillion, Accenture reported.

And Bazaarvoice’s latest survey also noted that a poor personalization experience can turn consumers away. Fully 38% of US digital shoppers said they would avoid shopping with retailers that made poor product recommendations.