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Digital Marketing September 19, 2019

What Do Consumers Really Think of Personalisation?


Online purchases have evolved rapidly in the last few years. Not only do consumers expect more than just a simple list of products, but whether they realise it or not, they want businesses to provide them with an experience tailored to their needs. Many brands talk about personalisation being a key priority, but do they put their money where their mouth is; do consumers see this in action and most importantly, how do they feel about their shopping experience?

“Personalisation is dominating digital marketing; with advancements in big data and Martech, brands are gaining valuable insight into their customers and tailoring marketing strategies based on individuals’ location, preferences and digital footprint,” said ​Floris Oranje, Managing Director of Digital Marketing at Dept​. 

He added: ​“Considering there are countless alternative choices at the click of a button, the consumer is now often the primary focus of marketing campaigns, instead of the product. There is such an emphasis placed on the user in personalisation without any direct input from them. Even though it is possible to come to conclusions based on statistics, we were aiming for a more thorough and firsthand understanding of how people felt about personalisation in e-commerce. It’s helped us gain more insight into what consumers find really useful and has confirmed some assumptions, whilst also surprising us.”


The Study

Dept interviewed 1,000 participants, across an equal distribution of male and female, across varying age groups and geographical demographics. Participants were not selected according to prior knowledge of personalisation, specific spending habits, or affiliation with any particular brand. Everyone in the group confirmed that they know what personalisation means and shared an average spending range of £0-£50 per month; highest spenders sit in the 35-45 years bracket and younger shoppers shopped with smaller budgets but in higher frequency compared to older audiences. 

The aim of the study was to find out how British consumers felt about retailers changing and tailoring the online shopping experience, based on individual needs, preferences, and data. And in turn, compile a report to help marketers understand consumers’ expectations, frustrations and hopes for personalisation.

Key Findings

Our research shows that consumers respond well to time-saving and functional techniques, but that there is an underlying feeling of indifference towards personalisation, potentially because it’s still evolving and opinions are heavily demographic-dependent. Overall, younger people are more positive than older generations, possibly because they’re more accustomed to this marketing approach and expect more interactive features. Even though they spend more online, older demographics are more wary and conservative, especially when transactions are involved.

According to our panel, location-based, interest-based and past purchase-based recommendations and offers are popular. Consumers like to be helped in finding ‘exactly’ what they want; so guidance throughout the decision-making process and ease is appreciated. Tailoring recommendations & vouchers based on previous items purchased is not only a very common technique but it is very popular; 58% of research participants had come across this while shopping online and 26% found it to be most helpful, and 46% said it was ‘quite’ helpful. 

Stats suggest that consumers already suspect that personalisation exists just to get them to spend more money and thus a desperate, pushy, overtly sales-driven personalisation plan should be avoided. Consumers find chatbots, spam and emails suggesting purchases unhelpful and often annoying. 5% of interviewees expressed the need for personalisation to be less intrusive, and to leave them to make their own decisions. When asked whether they felt some personalisation efforts were “creepy,” 26% strongly agreed, 32% agreed somewhat, and only 6% disagreed.

Next Steps

Personalisation isn’t a new marketing technique, it dates back to the start of commerce, but it’s currently a very hot topic due to the abundance of data, MarTech developments and consumer behaviour. 

There is no denying that personalisation is going to get more and more sophisticated in the future and that this is a changeable space. Global E-commerce retail is predicted to grow 41% by 2021; will this mean personalisation will need to be more innovative, with technology-driven brand experiences? Based on the feedback from today’s consumers, here are five points to evolve personalisation:

○ Educate consumers on why you need their data

○ Focus on dynamic data

○ Include more personalised offers and sales for loyal customers

○ Focus on how ‘helpful’ the personalisation techniques are

○ Intuitive personalisation – don’t disrupt the customer

Download the ‘What Do Consumers Really Think of Personalisation?’ whitepaper for full findings. 

Want to discuss this with us? Contact us directly or attend our upcoming breakfast briefing with Salesforce and Figleaves. Join us on October 2nd, 2019 at The Icetank, 5-7 Grape Street, Holborn, London at 8:30 am.

Questions? We are here to help!


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