Personal data: the fine line between personalization and intrusion

GDPR will soon celebrate its first anniversary. Not all companies are fully up to date and in the end we are not so sure that customers have managed to take advantage of the opportunity to limit the data they shared, but one thing is certain: it was an opportunity to put the subject of personal data back on the table and to raise awareness among all those who were still a little ingenious in this area.

The consumer is schizophrenic with his data

On the other hand, protecting the consumer’s personal data is good, but it is also necessary that the consumer is perfectly clear about what he wants to share or not. And I don’t think that in this matter he has an absolute religion, it’s more on a case-by-case basis.

As mentioned in this interview with the Vice President of Marketing of L’Oréal USA, when consumers give data they expect something in return. He is waiting for a personalized experience. It remains to be seen what we mean when we say personalized experience.

Very often for the brand, a personalized experience means that it will be able to put you in front of the products you will be more tempted to buy. It therefore optimizes its marketing above all.

The customer can put other things behind the notion of personalization. Some forms of recognition, customization of the journey, interface, etc.

The importance of capturing the client’s intent and context.

And then the customer is not the only factor to be taken into account since he himself varies according to his context.

Let us draw a parallel with what happens when we enter a store. Sometimes we plague because it is impossible to find a salesperson or because the salespeople in the room seem to be totally disinterested in the customers. On the other hand, you can also be overwhelmed when a salesman comes through the door without letting you breathe.

A single client, two radically opposed attitudes. And why is that? Because most often in one case we are in stroll mode, in exploratory mode while in the second we have an identified need and we come in to buy and finish it as fast as we can.

What’s the difference? The intention. We do not come back with the same objectives and therefore we expect two radically different types of experiences.

We can draw a parallel with the online experience where the personalization that will be perceived as a help by the one who comes to buy will be experienced as an aggression by the stroller. And this is even more so if it results in an intense retargetting campaign that, once again, will help one and exasperate the other. While both are the same person but in a different context.

But this is where the fine line between personalization and intrusion lies. Between help and aggression.

Is it possible to know a customer’s intention?

This raises the question of whether it is possible to know what is in a client’s mind. A good salesman will tell you that by his eyes, by his attitude as soon as he walks through the door of the store, he knows what posture to adopt. But this concerns good salespeople and I think it is closely linked to the sector or even the positioning of the store.

And online? Today, the promise of some adtech solutions is to predict the visitor’s profile and purchase intention. Is it kept? It seems we’re still a long way from that. Moreover, the GDPR will not necessarily help when it comes to understanding a client’s intention based on what they have done on other sites previously… which would make sense here.

But as difficult – impossible? – As it may seem, this is the price at which merchants will be able to stay on the right side of the barrier in terms of how consumers perceive the use made of their data.


Photo : personal data by streetlucifer  via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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