UK Research Reveals Consumers Will Boycott Brands That Fail to Personalize But Are Comfortable with AI in Exchange for a Better Experience

Natalie Homer
Natalie Homer , Global Sr PR Manager , Emarsys

Over 40% of consumers will shun brands that send irrelevant messages and offers, but support the case for AI, as 47% state they are happy for smart technology to improve their shopping experience

London, UK and the Emarsys Revolution event – 15th October, 2018: Poorly-targeted and unrelated marketing materials are driving customers away from their favourite brands, according to new research by AI marketing experts Emarsys. Its survey of more than 2000 UK consumers, published today, reveals how far brands are from being able to deliver on the promise of marketing – that of true personalization or individualization, at scale – with only 6% of consumers believing the product and service offers they receive are specifically relevant to them. The full study can be downloaded here.

Poor attempts at personalization are having an adverse impact on customer experience. An alarming 2 in 5 consumers (41%) swear they won’t purchase from a brand again if they receive haphazard marketing materials, causing irreparable, long-term damage to thousands of brand-customer relationships. Over 60% demand that offers they receive be tailored to them and their interests precisely, so it’s no surprise that two thirds (66%) admitted they would ignore all future marketing from a brand if it sent them hit-or miss offers.

While the findings indicate brands are struggling to get the formula right, they also demonstrate the market opportunity for businesses that put personalization at the heart of their strategy and provide more tailored content to consumers. When it comes to customer loyalty, over half of respondents (57%) admitted they would be more likely to repeat purchase if they received more loyalty-based discounts from a retailer, while 41% would be more likely to buy from a brand again if they received bespoke offers which were truly personalized and unique to them.

The problem that most brands encounter though is that human-driven personalization just doesn’t scale. That is, segmentation and personalization designed and executed by marketers doesn’t provide the level of individualization, at volume, that consumers demand. However, for marketing departments and brands that are mature enough and ready, AI and machine learning can scale to audiences large and small, as it learns the preferences of each individual and tailors accordingly.

Whilst there is a lot of hype around AI and machine learning, the study illustrates that consumers generally have few hang ups on the subject. It reveals that consumers are not concerned about being marketed to by AI, provided it improves their customer experience. More than four in five (82%) are now aware of the use of AI in their shopping experience, and almost half (47%) are happy with brands using machine learning instead of humans to personalize marketing experiences, if it improves the offers and recommendations they receive. With a further 43% indicating they are happy with it being used to determine what discounts they receive.

The research also showed that email (60%) is still by far the preferred channel for consumers to receive offers and recommendations, ahead of post (23%) and social media (19%).

Discussing the results at Emarsys’ global client event, Revolution, Grant Coleman, VP and Market Director for UK and Nordics at Emarsys, said: “Personalization is the Holy Grail of good marketing, but what’s clear from this research is that marketers’ current, human-driven approach simply doesn’t scale, leading to irrevocably damaged relationships with customers and ultimately churn. Additionally, while marketers are grappling with making sense of data sets and tech stacks, they are not fully focused on developing distinctive creative content, the sort that delights and differentiates. AI tips this balance in their favour, doing all the legwork so that communication is always tailored across every channel along the purchase lifecycle, eliminating the risk of upsetting valued patrons.”

Rajan Balasundaram, Vice President, Solutions and Strategic Services at Emarsys, added: “Brands that can make full and fast use of the data and technologies available to them will not only provide consumers with far more individual customer experiences, but also ensure they as marketers reap the full benefits of the systems they have invested in. As this study shows, consumers aren’t fussed about what’s feeding the machine – they just want a shopping experience which works for them and provides value to their individual needs.”

About the research
This research of 2,002 UK consumers was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of Emarsys in August 2018. Opinion Matters abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

About Emarsys
Emarsys is the largest independent marketing platform company in the world. The company provides actionable intelligence to enterprises targeting their consumers, combining machine learning and data science with true personalization and multichannel delivery to reach consumers most effectively, maximizing engagement and results. With more than 800 employees in 15 global office locations, Emarsys serves more than 2,200 clients in 140 countries. Every month, Emarsys sends over seven billion messages — helping consumers increase revenue and ROI. To learn more about Emarsys visit:

• emarsys.com
• twitter.com/emarsys
• facebook.com/emarsys
• linkedin.com/company/emarsys

Media Contact:

Natalie Homer                                                                 Tom Dockar-Drysdale
Global PR Manager                                                        Account Director
Emarsys                                                                            Brands2Life
natalie.homer@emarsys.com                                      tom.dockar-drysdale@brands2life.com
+44 7387 257263                                                           +44 207 592 1200