March 09, 2015

U.S. Consumers Want More Personalized Retail Experience and Control Over Personal Information, Accenture Survey Shows

NEW YORK; March 9, 2015 – U.S. consumers want a more personalized retail experience but are divided on retailers’ tactics and the types of personal information they feel comfortable disclosing, according to a new survey from Accenture. Nearly 60 percent of consumers want real-time promotions and offers, yet only 20 percent want retailers to know their current location and only 14 percent want to share their browsing history.

The Accenture Personalization Survey examined customer expectations around a personalized shopping experience with retailers, including social channels, and explored the issue of digital trust. Accenture defines digital trust as the confidence placed in an organization to collect, store, and use the digital information of others in a manner that benefits and protects the consumer.

The research found that while many consumers are willing to share some personal details with retailers, nearly all (90 percent) of the respondents said if the option was available they would limit access to certain types of personal data and would stop retailers from selling their information to third parties. In addition, 88 percent would prefer to determine how the data can be used and 84 percent want to review and correct information.

“Personalization is a critical capability for retailers to master, but as our survey shows, addressing the complex requirements of U.S. consumers is challenging because they are conflicted on the issue,” said Dave Richards, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “If retailers approach and market personalization as a value exchange, and are transparent in how the data will be used, consumers will likely be more willing to engage and trade their personal data.”

The survey explored and identified the types of online and offline retail technologies, tailored customer experiences and communications that consumers may experience. According to the survey, the most welcome in-store retailer communications and offerings include automatic discounts at checkout for loyalty points or coupons (82 percent) and real-time promotions (57 percent). When it comes to personalized online experiences, the most popular choices were website optimized by device (desktop, tablet, mobile) (64 percent) and promotional offers for items the customer is strongly considering (59 percent).

Other notable findings include:

Consumers are more willing to share certain personal details with retailers, including demographic information such as gender (65 percent), age (53 percent) and contact information (52 percent), although a significantly smaller percentage (24 percent) would share their contact information on social media. Financial (credit score), medical and social media contacts details are deemed the most sensitive, with 13, eight and five percent, respectively, willing to share this information with retailers.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the customer, his or her data, and the obligations retailers have to create and maintain digital trust with those customers,” said Richards. “It is important to recognize that the line for what’s acceptable versus inappropriate is different for every customer, that the customer often doesn’t know where the line is and that the line is fluid and evolves over time as new, innovative, personalized experiences are created and become mainstream. The customer remains in control over where the line of digital trust is drawn, requiring retailers to be agile and flexible in their approach to personalization.”

Key demographic differences depict generational conflict

“Leading retailers understand that every shopper is different and look for insight in terms of what works best across product and service lines or with high-value customers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director for Retail, Accenture Strategy. “It is critical to test how customers might respond to a particular personalization strategy. Data-driven testing should include the behavior of individual customers, demographic indicators and factors relating to the item itself. For instance, while some people may want to be told they are out of milk, they may not feel the same way about personal care products.”

Consumers want to get personal, but not too personal
While the survey results indicate that consumers want retailers to know them enough to provide relevant offers, some potential tactics such as a retailer making sure the customer is buying the right item based on their personal demographics are considered too personal. According to the survey, consumers are less comfortable with the following personalization tactics:

“Personalization can be a powerful method for retailers to differentiate from competitors, increase basket size and build customer loyalty,” said Richards. “To effectively implement personalization across all channels, retailers would benefit from understanding customers at a broad level as well as individually – determining where personalization strategies can best drive business results, and giving key subsets of customers the choice on how they wish to participate.”

The key technology enablers of a personalized experience that places the consumer at the center of every digital experience—what Accenture refers to as the “Internet of Me”—are explored further in the Accenture Technology Vision 2015.

Accenture conducted an online survey using a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. consumers in October 2014. Participants were split equally between males and females between 20 and 40 years of age, and the survey recorded income, ethnicity and socio-demographics.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 319,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is

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