The Customer Genome and the Future State of Personalisation

The Customer Genome and the Future State of Personalisation

In the context of the digitisation of everything and the growth of liquid expectations, Accenture designed a more fluid approach to understanding customer purchase motives to drive personalised marketing and experiences: the Customer Genome.

One of the more startling revelations of recent years is that people are more likely to switch entirely when confronted by too many options. According to Accenture’s recent Personalization Pulse Survey, 2016, two in five (40 percent) consumers have left a business’s website and made a purchase on another site or in a store because they were overwhelmed by too many options

The MENA region is not an exception to this proliferation of choices for the customer: the progression to a digital world, where the options to buy products are exploding and the continuous increase in an area of consumption. Many companies are losing the proximity and ability to personalise in a traditional sense; a merchant recognising the customer by name and using his preferences to help him make decisions. According to the survey, 65% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer if they are recognised, remembered and received relevant recommendations.

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To return to this level of customer understanding and service, companies must move beyond classic insights (like RFM3 or value segmentations) and begin to understand why they made those choices.

Are they chocolate lovers? Are they vegetarians? Do they have a gluten allergy? Do they play tennis? Do they have a garden? It’s what Accenture calls the customer genome. In a way, it’s not very different from the human genome, albeit in the digital world and decoded by “data” scientists.

By leveraging this customer genome, companies can build a living profile of the customer’s unique preferences, passions, and needs, and lay the foundation for a future where personalisation platforms can architect previously unimagined experiences. All interactions (such as mobile app usage, email responses, social interactions, poll submissions, in-person events attended, etc.) and purchases are comprised of descriptive attributes that shed light on each customer’s uniqueness.

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Let’s take the example of an almost universally loved dairy product: cheese. On top of identifying that a customer likes cheese, the Customer Genome differentiates cheese lovers and occasional, then between goat’s or cow’s cheese, Stilton and Camembert or Halloumi and between brands.

Let’s talk about one of the most shared commodities, part of all shopping lists of customers: rice. Well…difficult to get thrilled by the idea of purchasing rice… and difficult for retailers and brands to re-invent usual promotions on this category.

However, what if among its +70 rice brands, your retailer could communicate to you on your favourite brand? Or to send you a recommendation of the best gluten-free rice brand he has, as he spotted your allergy from other purchases? What if he would be able to suggest you a recipe of chicken biryani that would support your Daawat long grain rice that you purchase regularly and fits your preferences?

Here the Customer Genome plays a significant role to differentiate generic message to truly personalised messages that aim to drive traffic, purchase and additional sales.

These living profiles from the customer genome serve as the centralised customer intelligence to help drive an orchestrated experience across all personalisation platforms, such as recommendation engines, DMPs and campaign management tools but also to improve internal decisions like product assortment in stores.

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Accenture Customer Genome is a key asset to increase the efficiency of marketing offer. It tailors the preference of each customer towards the relevant promotion or communication, and therefore will directly connect to his personal preferences. Communication on your favourite Rice brand you use for your weekly family meal will resonate much more than a standard -10% on food cupboard. The Customer Genome outcomes also open discussions on assortment. Switching from rice to cheese, the identification of a specific group of consistent French cheese buyers in one store signal the relevance of increasing the offering of French cheeses in one store opposed to other ones.

The development of a customer genome results in an explosion of rich and unprecedented information. This dramatic increase of knowledge requires more advanced methods and tools, such as artificial intelligence. However, this is not enough. Four main blocks compose the end to end solution:

  • Data: which internal and external data to collect and leverage?
  • Business libraries: which attributes are relevant per industry?
  • Business rules: when and how to use those attributes from a business standpoint?
  • Tools: how to orchestrate campaigns and personalised offers through various inbound and outbound channels?

Through intelligent service design, the genome can be the backbone for a customer’s personal assistant, personal concierge, or personal shopper. Another top trend identified by our survey is the “flattening of privilege” where highly-tailored experiences were historically reserved for the very wealthy, with costs and scale being the main barrier to entry. Thanks to the low cost of digital experiences, the customer genome can enable highly scalable yet personalised experiences for the masses across both online and offline interactions.

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Finally, and even if consumers are more and more open to sharing information about them, three guidelines must be considered to avoid issues:

  • TRANSPARENCY: the customer is aware that the data is being collected
  • CONTROL: the customer can edit or delete information
  • VALUE: the data is being used to enhance or improve the experience

As an illustration, 70 percent of consumers are comfortable with their data being collected if a company is transparent about how it uses the data or if they can control how the data is used1.

Like many disruptive innovations, the customer genome will slowly but gradually establish itself as the benchmark for any business that thrives on personalisation. It took humanity more than a century, from the time Friedrich Miescher first identified the DNA in 1871, to develop the first sequencing technique. Although mainstream utilisation of the customer genome will not take as long, businesses are still in the infancy stage of fully applying their knowledge of the customer genome. With the adoption of analytics, AI and machine learning proliferating globally and reducing technology costs, organisations that don’t institutionalise the customer genome concept are sure to fall behind the pack and find it hard to play catch up with their more mature peers.

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