This New Year's consumers should resolve to stop whining about privacy. They can't have it both ways. They can't whine about being hammered with irrelevant ads and then suggest they're worried about their privacy. The kind of custom content and tailoring that consumers seem to love -- Amazon's related items you might like, Spotify's suggested music playlist and Netflix's recommended queue -- simply don't happen without access to a consumer's preferences, age and local demographics. And, let's be real. Direct marketers have been tracking you for years.
Remember when as a kid you joined Baskin Robbins' birthday club and they sent you a coupon for a free ice cream on your birthday? How about the time you moved to your new home and suddenly your mailbox was jammed with discounted offers from insurance companies and furniture retailers? Was that so bad?
Long before the internet, marketers have piloted personalization efforts at consumers' key life stages, when spending behavior is elevated or about to become elevated and there is clear information that points to a unique set of information needs. Such circumstances provide the opportune moments for a brand to rise to the occasion create a long-term relationship and reap greater rewards. It's the difference between becoming a brand that's handy and a brand that can be relied on during an emotional moment in consumers' lives.
Thanks to the internet, marketers can now deliver even more sophisticated and personalized content. Take a look at the timely and helpful content offerings below, tied to key life stages, and determine if anyone's the worse for the next level of personalized content.
Welcome to Adulthood – 18 Till I Die!
Happy Birthday! Today, you're of legal age, and eligible to vote. Won't be long before you'll be living on your own and making your own buying decisions. Many of the high-usage products within the packaged-goods category that used to be purchased by "mom" will now be bought by our newly-minted adult. And these early brand relationships are critical, because they can last for a lifetime. This fact has not escaped Gillette, which has embarked on an effort to send every U.S. male a new Fusion ProGlide Razor on his 18th birthday.
There are also opportunities in areas such as financial services. Helping someone get his or her first credit card or checking account is another high-value relationship that can last a lifetime. And remember, It is not just custom offers that are important to this group. Brands that provide insightful and educational content, to bring context to a new situation, can find a lasting place with this audience. American Express, for one, has achieved great success targeting college students at the end of each student year.
Here Comes the Bride
With what they hope will be the happiest day of their lives on the horizon, brides are grateful for marketers that will lend them a hand as they navigate a million and one choices, from invitations to gifts to wardrobe and reception planning. Bloomingdale's scores points with brides for offering discounts on items that haven't been purchased on their gift registry and incentives to shop at their store before the big day. Bloomingdales, Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma all offer thank you note trackers and Crate and Barrel offers a registry app which allows brides to scan items through their phone, manage their list and never talk to an associate if that's their preference.
Our House, in the Middle of our Street
Ready to buy a home? Well then chances are you're about to embark on a whole series of decisions -- everything from what cable provider to use, and maybe even what kind of new car you'll need, assuming you've moved to the suburbs. According to Sears, advertising to new home buyers is more effective than advertising at any other period in consumers' lives. Is it any wonder than that you'll be receiving offers via direct mail, email and search to ensure that marketers are at the ready to steer first-time offers your way? Personalized content and offers can help to meet the complex and interrelated needs consumers have when relocating their family and home.
Trulia does an excellent job of keeping house hunting consumers informed of new properties that become available and meet their personalized needs through an award winning app and personalized emails. They also help consumers find an agent, mortgage or appropriate insurance. They have wrapped a group of related products together and deliver personalized content through multiple channels.
Welcome to Middle Age -- Turning 50
There are a host of products and services that become highly relevant once a consumer turns 50. These include an increased emphasis on retirement planning, estate planning, and certainly medical coverage and insurance. The 50's are also typically the highest earning years for many professionals -- hence dream vacations and second homes also over-index for this audience. None of this is lost on organizations such as the AARP. If you are turning 50 you can count on getting your AARP membership card and offer in the mail about a month before your birthday. Not surprisingly, this can be one of the most profitable groups for marketers to reach.
We now live in a world of "Big Content." Most marketers are significantly increasing their spending on content creation and building out ever-larger and complex ecosystems. Partially because of this, consumers are often overwhelmed with marketing that has nothing to do with their immediate needs and content does not perform as expected. Personalization is one of the most effective tools in increasing content performance.
Consumers need to take a leap of faith and understand that sharing a certain amount of personal information with marketers they trust will be beneficial to both in the long run. And marketers should resolve to live up to their part of the bargain as well -- by respecting and protecting a consumer's information as if it were their own.