“Personalization” is the new “Segmentation”

In MITSloan Management Review Article “A Plan to Invent the Marketing We Need Today”, Yoram Wind wrote

This world has led to a new breed of consumers. They expect customization (make it mine), communities (let me be a part of it), multiple channels (let me call, click or visit), competitive value (give me more for my money) and choice (give me search and decision tools).

In this post I would like to focus on the combination of the first (customization) and the last (choice) and call it “personalization” for the purpose of this discussion.

As a consumer selecting a product to purchase, I rely on marketing collateral to form my expectations, and on the comments of my peers who already experienced the products I consider to buy. Any decision is made with a relative shortage of information required to make this decision. An unavoidable ambiguity of available information from marketing collateral and product scores from online retailers or advertisers, does not help the consumer to reduce uncertainty of their decision easily. I want to know how likely this product will satisfy me, because while I know that other customers, who described their experiences are my peers, their product scores do not help me to understand whether we share and value the same aspects of a product experience. The only way to figure that out is to read carefully the descriptions of their experience. That takes a lot of time and effort.

GPS Compare 1

The higher number of customer reviews and more detailed their description of a product experience (more data), the more useful and accurate are the results of personalized information to support the purchasing decision.

GPS Compare 2

The key element for me, as a consumer, is the reliability issues of the Garmin product when it is compared to very similar Magellan GPS. These reliability reputation issues are not “visible” looking at traditional 4.5 stars customers gave to Garmin. However for me reliability of GPS device represent the highest differentiator, and allows me to “personalize” my choice.

A very similar problem facing marketeers who want to understand specific, personal characteristics that affect the reputation of their products and brands, and how they influence their competitive position in their market segments. Their problem is multiplied by a number of products, brands and competitors they have to follow and lack of consistent methodology to produce effective output. The technologies are complex to implement and costs are staggering.

Professor Wind continues

Through its maturation as a discipline over the past half century, marketing has emerged as a rigorous field. Tools such as conjoint analysis, economic and econometric modeling, behavioral economics, data mining, and techniques derived from mathematical psychology have raised the level of rigor and strengthened the insights that marketing can contribute to the enterprise. But many of the most rigorous tools were developed years ago. Today’s challenge is how to move from using old tools that are focused on solving problems of the past to developing new and rigorous tools that are relevant to the challenges of today and the future.

I would like to pose that “personalization” is the new “segmentation”, and certain aspects of personal Customer Experience provide a lot more guidance for marketers than demographics, ethnicity, etc. because they are much closer correlate to  how your customers use and experience your products in their circumstances.

Marketing is divided between behavioral and quantitative approaches to marketing questions. Increasingly, the recruitment of faculty and doctoral students, and the design of workshops, are focused separately on behavioral and quantitative approaches. Ideally, the
two sides should come together. Markets can be seen through either a behavioral or quantitative lens, but as with binocular vision, we gain more depth when we look through both.

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3 Responses to “Personalization” is the new “Segmentation”

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