Perspective: Power of Personalization

In a scene from the 2002 American science fiction film Minority Report, the audience sees actor Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton, running through a futuristic train station. A series of digital display advertisements lining the station walls each change in turn to present a personalized message just for him – an American Express ad shouts directly to him, “It looks like you need an escape, John, and Blue can take you there!”

Fast forward a decade or so, and this scenario no longer seems so far-fetched. Personalization has become an area of intense interest, not only for advertisers, but also for market strategists, product designers, and customer experience officers. Spurred on both by consumers’ increasing willingness to share personal information and by sophisticated technology developments, personalization has become a core strategy for many business-to-consumer organizations. Yet many dimensions of personalization are not well understood by businesses or consumers, and perceptions of its benefits and risks vary.

Broadly defined, personalization involves making products, services experiences, content and other aspects of an organization’s brand more relevant to a specific individual, using knowledge gained through the person’s implicit behavior and preferences and/or information he explicitly provides. Its purpose varies, depending on the company and department deploying it: driving revenue; locking-in customer loyalty; crafting optimal product mixes; or creating competitive differentiation.

We asked members of the Innovation Exchange to explore the idea of personalization, what’s driving its growth and consumer willingness to provide information. Over the next few days, we’ll share their thoughts on this topic.

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