It’s always been a reality of marketing and business that consumer behaviour evolves, and that those who understand the change have a huge advantage. And yet it’s all too common that businesses aren’t prepared, don’t know what’s going on and underestimate the effects. And as a result they miss out on huge opportunities. One of those situations that’s happening right now with respect to how consumers interact with businesses online.

Whether it’s new data privacy legislation or scandals surrounding some of the largest sources of consumer information, issues of personal data and privacy are growing rapidly in the public consciousness. And consumers are waking up to the value and power of their personal data. If you’re looking for an example, think the uproar around Facebook targeting during the 2017 US election or the new GDPR regulations across the EU.

History will show that we’re looking at the end of the days when businesses can leverage consumer data without using it to provide direct value to their customers. Already data suggests that 58% of consumers say they expect a personalised experience when making a purchase. And that same data tells us that a majority of people are more than willing to trade their personal data for a great experience.

The exciting thing is this is a huge opportunity for businesses if they can be agile and forward looking. Think of this:

  • You’ve got Amazon  – they provide awesome recommended products based on past purchases, consumer insights and predictive analytics.
  • Look at how Spotify and Netflix use your past engagement to create custom experiences tailored to your specific tastes
  • And of course look at the entire business model of social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. They provide a completely personalised experience based on thousands of data points.

These are the big tech companies though – and we expect them to be ahead in this area. But there are possibilities for all businesses.

  • We’re going to see small retailers create new custom product bundles based on remarketing and demographic data
  • We’ll see grocery and food stores provide pre-created shopping lists, nutrition guides and recipes based on previous purchases, interest targeting and search history
  • And there are massive opportunities for financial institutions to provide customised savings plans, investments and payment options based on financial information, behaviour, location and demographics

These are just a few examples, but there’s an opportunity for every business! And even if a business can’t find a way to customise their product offering, consumers will still expect them to personalise their communication.

So to prepare yourself for this major realignment in how consumers interact with businesses online, my recommendation is to start by asking these four questions:

  • What aspect of my products or services are customisable?
  • How can I segment my target market to match the possible customised solutions?
  • What areas of my marketing or customer service can be further personalised?
  • What technology do I need to create these solutions?

With the answers to these, you can build your plan to meet this opportunity.