Getting Personal: The Ever Growing Debate around Brand and Personalisation

When thinking about brands and personalisation it’s hard not to think of Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which swept the nation in 2013; and as a result retailers had to deal with their stock rotation being ruined, as consumers went to great lengths to find a bottle with their name on it. This year, the carbonated drinks giant re-ran the campaign, following its previous success. This was a brave move, but one which Coke have pulled off with several of its previous campaigns.

John Lewis, as part of their 150 years campaign replaced the John Lewis name with the customer’s name. However, as with the Coke example, people were still able to interpret the iconic brand.

But it is not just about putting your name on it. it’s no secret that people love a touch of personal service, and this can help build brand resonance. From the shop assistant who picks out the dress that fits you like a glove, to the friendly barista who knows your coffee order. However, there is a fine line between being personal and just being downright creepy, just as there is a line between personalised and generic. Brands need to find a balance between engagement and invasion of privacy.

Personalisation has been a very powerful tool in the fast food sector. An inflexible menu just doesn’t cut it for today’s diner who expects more, and know what they like: tall skinny mocha – no cream. However this concern can be solved by giving people choice, options and varying combinations, so that a wider range of people can be catered for without an endlessly long menu. Restaurants are learning how to adapt to the different dietary preferences and therefore providing a great service to all. This is a good example of how personalisation benefits people, and makes for a powerful marketing tool.  Brands like Nandos and Subway  employ personalisation as part of their business strategy, as well as pulling some interesting one off stunts, such as when Nandos gifted personalised Peri Peri sauce to urban music star Tinie Tempah.

Ipsos ASI personalisation blog_ nandos example


Their initiatives has prompted McDonald’s to invest heavily in personalisation in order to stay relevant within the market. However, personalisation efforts don’t always go to plan, as Starbucks – the kings of successful personalisation techniques such as the fully customisable Frappuccino – found out when rolling out their plan to write their customer’s names on cups. The misspellings that happened as a consequence even have their own Tumblr page!

Ipsos ASI personalisation blog_Starbucks example


Personalisation also spans into online, and an Ipsos Global Trends Study found that 62% of people would prefer to keep their information and personal activities private, even if they do not get personalised service and relevant recommendations. Furthermore, 76% of us in the UK are concerned about the amount of information being collected about us by companies when we go online and 62% say that they would rather not have their information used to give them personalised sponsored stories on social media sites.

Amazon is a great example of a company who log transactions and make recommendations – leading customers to buy a series of books, as opposed to just one. The only issue I have found is that when I buy a present for someone else, it bases recommendations for me on those purchases. These kinds of tactics have resulted in some rather mixed feelings from consumers.

From a consumer perspective, personalisation is ultimately all about clear benefits and trust,  in the case of supermarkets, shoppers get discounts and tailored offers; according to Ipsos Global Trends study 32% of consumers would trust supermarkets with their personal information. Public Healthcare providers and Banks are the most trusted with 45% of consumers. However, media companies and social media sites fare less well with only 19% and 20% respectively.

Following the crowd just doesn’t cut it when it comes to using personalisation; brands that gain from it are those who aren’t afraid to think outside the box.

What are you waiting for?

Special thanks to Rachael Camp of Ipsos ASI UK for writing this blog. Ipsos ASI help clients make things simply, better. Follow Ipsos ASI on Twitter @IpsosASIUK.

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