Me, myself, and I: The power of personal-“i”-zation
Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog
Me, myself and I; Have just one point of view; We are convinced; There is no one else like you – Billie Holiday
Back in 2000-2001, during my b-school days, I developed a habit of staying up late till 4 AM regularly, working on group assignments. As a result, I started snoozing through my morning alarm, missing the 8 AM class. I vowed to fix the problem but was clueless how. A totally unrelated incident on a Monday morning at 4 AM led me to the solution.
I had traveled out-of-town and had left my dorm-room key with a friend next-door. When I returned at 4 AM, I kept knocking on his door, for what seemed like hours, screaming his nickname. He was fast asleep. Exasperated, and close to giving up, I tried a hail-Mary- by calling out his real name. That worked! I heard the sound of him getting up from the bed, walking to the door, and unlocking. He handed me the key and promptly went back to sleep- without uttering a word!
I learnt my first lesson in life on personalization: Your name captures your attention like no other word can
I had found a solution to my problem. I went back to my room and recorded a custom alarm on my desktop computer (yes, we did have computers back then) which rang every morning “Venky wake up; Venky wake up”, gently cradling me out of sleep on the first ring, every single day.
For a CPG company, the psychology of personalization is the key to unlocking consumer value
Don’t go by what I say. Scientific studies have uncovered that when people hear their own name or get personalized content, they tend to respond more favorably and remember it for much longer. Moreover, there are two key factors that drive our preference for personalization: information overload and desire for control. Personalized experiences give the consumer a feeling of perceived decrease in information overload and at the same time a perceived increase in a sense of control of the outcomes.
There are benefits to CPG companies in using this finding. Those that have leveraged this consumer psychology effectively, have reduced customer acquisition costs by 50 percent, increased revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increased marketing spend efficiency by 10 to 30 percent. What more, through personalization initiatives, consumers are not only sharing their preferences directly with CPG companies, but they are also putting skin in the game by purchasing the product.
Now, let us look at some of the interesting personalization initiatives across various CPG segments
Let’s start with the food & beverage segment:
What’s your poison? Diageo, with help of Capgemini, forayed into the DTC channel through Johnnie Walker My Edition, a personalized Whiskey platform that lets the users design and personalize their own Johnnie Walker whisky blend, bottle, and pack.
Hmm..refreshing! Coca-Cola Freestyle is a touch screen soda fountain introduced by Coca-Cola in 2009 with help of Capgemini. It features 165 different Coca-Cola drink products, house flavors (such as Moe-Rita by Moe’s Southwest Grill), as well as custom flavors created by consumers on their app which they can scan using a QR code. The machines are currently located in major Coca-Cola partners and retail locations. The machine can also talk to Coca-Cola backend systems and provide breakthrough transformation in supply chain management and new product introductions.
Sweet! Hotel Chocolat, another feather in our Cap(gemini), allows shoppers to construct bespoke gift hampers one chocolate at a time, and as they add items, view how “full” their hamper is and see total costs in real-time. They can order multiple gifts at once, and choose from multiple messaging and shipping options for each recipient.
Mmm Mmm Good! Campbell Soup acquired a start-up in 2016, called Habit (sold to Viome in 2019) that developed nutrition recommendations based on an individual’s biology, metabolism, and personal goals while offering one-on-one wellness and nutrition coaching. Habit operated off data- it sent customers an at-home test kit that included a DNA cheek swab, fasting blood test, a mixed meal metabolic challenge beverage, body metrics, and a behavioral survey in order to develop an individual nutrition plan.
How about the personal and pet care segment?
It will make you smile! Colgate introduced Colgate® Plaqless Pro smart electric toothbrush with an optic sensor technology that detects biofilm buildup in the mouth so that it can be removed while brushing. It aims to revolutionize oral care by providing precise information in real-time that is specific to each mouth and the distinct brushing technique of every individual.
Dedicated to our furry friends! Mars introduced innovations like Whistle 3 pet tracker that allows pet owners to check their pet’s activity throughout the day and determine if they need an extra walk or a chance to nap. Importantly, recommendations are personalized based on a particular pet’s age, weight, and breed. Another service called Wisdom Panel dog DNA tests screen for more than 150 genetic health conditions covering 16 major body systems. By sharing this information with the family vet, pet owners can have a better opportunity to implement preventive care and help manage the future wellbeing of their pet.
Beauty is only skin deep, but beauty-tech goes deeper:
Behold! Estee Lauder Companies opened a MAC Cosmetics’ Interactive Experience Center in Shanghai which is like the Shangri-La of personalization. Customers can use a virtual makeup mirror to sample 18 lipsticks in 30 seconds, use an infrared touchscreen to match foundation shades with the customer’s complexion or tailor eye shadows to their own tastes, pay through WeChat, and pickup their custom 3D-printed palettes.
The bee’s knees! Clorox’s cosmetic brand Burt’s Bees has been making special, custom lip balms for high-profile fans of the brand, such as editors, celebrities, makeup artists, and influencers. But they hadn’t yet found a way to produce personalized Burt’s Bees lip balms at scale. That’s changed. They ran a successful test to offer personalized lip balms during the 2017 holiday season. Now they have thousands of people from all 50 states buying Burt’s Bees lip balm tubes with their own names on them.
Talking of Bees, did you know that bees can see in ultraviolet? It helps them hone in on flowers. Humans, on the other hand, see the world in red, green and blue. Normal digital cameras use the same principle that we do. Learning from the Bees, Capgemini developed Skintuition – the multispectral imaging platform, that uses non-invasive, non-contact way of seeing everything from our pulse to hidden damage caused by the sun.
While personalization initiatives are scattered across the CPG spectrum, personalization-at-scale remains the holy-grail
Every company across the CPG spectrum has acknowledged the importance of personalization and most are taking baby steps to achieve it. However, achieving ‘personalization-at-scale’ continues to remain the holy-grail. To offer effective, personalized CPG products, companies need to understand shopper’s needs, decide what products will meet those needs, manufacture those products at scale, and turn a profit despite higher manufacturing costs. It’s easier said than done and takes a lot of time and patience. In order to start that journey, CPG companies need to institutionalize the personalization mindset, which requires new ways of working and investments in the following areas
- Advanced customer data (CDP) and analytics capabilities that can process a myriad of unstructured data from voice to visual to gain an understanding of the shopper needs and convert them into actionable insights
- Machine learning capabilities to select the products best suited to each shopper
- Automated factories embracing Industry 4.0 and 3D printing to support production
- Personal data security, privacy, and regulatory compliance within systems that generate, transmit, consume, store, or dispose of consumer data
- Last, but not least, adopting agile principles that enable them to start small, generate top-line impact in a matter of weeks, and self-fund the initiative after that.
Now it’s your turn to speak
When you think of a personalized product, which brand comes to your mind first? What challenges have you faced while working on a personalization initiative in your company? Do you think there is anything else CPG companies could do to drive personalization-at-scale?
Feel free to reach out to Venky Ramesh with your opinion or feedback.