Mass Marketing is dead, that's nothing new. In a world dominated by the culture of "Me", one size doesn't fit all. Customers - no matter what their socioeconomic status is - want to take center stage. They want to be loved by the Brands they love, in return for their loyalty.
If you are not willing to take care of your customers’ emotions, desires and needs, they will devote their soul and heart to your competitors. In this ever-customer-centric scenario, personalization goes from being a nice-to-have to becoming a must-have.
For over 15 years, one-to-one marketing (also called personalized marketing, or individual marketing) has moved in this direction to help companies engage with customers the right way, based on their needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Global players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, to name a few, are well-known for being data-driven companies aiming at the customer excellence.
Netflix knows the ‘completion rate’ for a TV series; how many users started and finished it til the end of the last season; where the common cut-off point was; how long has passed between when they watched one episode and then the next.
And the data go even deeper: when you pause, rewind, or fast forward; when you watch a specific type of content; where you watch and what device you use; the ratings you give, what you do after any episode - if you leave the app or go back to browsing.
The same way, Amazon constantly analyzes what items you purchased; what is in your wishlist; what you search for the most; which products you reviewed and rated; and uses this information to recommend you additional products based on what the other customers purchased in the same situation.
Given this continuous evolution towards a more and more detailed knowledge of a customer’s ‘moves’ and features, the question is: What is the missing piece that will enable Brands to create a more intimate, long-lasting relationship with customers?
Tracking behaviors is a critical task, no doubt about it. However, it is not enough to explain, discover or predict the 'Why' of our behaviors, feelings, and choices, that is deeply linked to our inner world and is a consequence of 'Who' we truly are.
Who we are - our unique personality - affects our behaviors more than people think or realize. And even more than marketers do. Understanding this simple fact is the basic requirement to persona-lize your strategy.
A crowded place full of new people can excite an extroverted and annoy an introvert. An extreme sport or a transgressive experience will attract those who love taking risks, and scare those who avoid them. An open-minded person will be excited to try an entirely new product, while a conservative person will prefer to wait for that product to be tested by others.
It is evident that we - as marketers - are missing something important, the human side of customers.
The interesting thing is that our personality determines not only what we like, but also our communication preferences and, consequently, what is most likely to persuade us. As empathetic human beings, we can flexibly adapt our language and relational approach from time to time, depending on who we are dealing with.
A good seller who understands his customer has an easy game because he knows how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to paint it.
As an example, let's take a personality trait known as Need for Uniqueness, the pursuing of differentness relative to others, that can be obtained through the purchase and use of goods and services.
This personality trait can be a key buying reason in various contexts, such as shopping for clothes. Some people usually look for items that visibly distinguish them from others, and when they realize that another person also wears something they just bought, they lose interest or even get annoyed.
Other people, on the other hand, prefer to blend with others - especially their reference group - and use their dressing style to emphasize this membership and belonging.
Now think about this. What if fashion brands had this information readily available for each customer, exactly as they already know the age, sex, and last purchase?
Would they communicate their offer in the same way? We hope not. Such information would radically change the way they see customers, interact with them and deliver unique customer experiences.
One-to-one marketing, as we know it, is surely getting smarter thanks to the huge amount of detailed data on what customers do across all stages and channels of their journey. But if this is useful, it is not necessarily exponential.
The innovation here does not come with the increasing of the data managed, but by introducing new ideas and criteria to evaluate those data (i.e. the Psychographics, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology).
Mass communication is dead, and mass personalization is evolving to embrace the human side of customers progressively. Starting from now, an empathetic marketing strategy will take marketing and customer experience to the next level.