Consumers looking for personal touch

17 January 2012

NEW YORK: A majority of consumers would share information about activities like their media usage and lifestyle if it led to a more personalised shopping experience, an international study has found.

IBM, the business services firm, polled 28,000 shoppers in 15 countries, like Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico and the US, alongside mature markets in Western Europe.

In all, 61% of adults were not adverse to providing retailers with their name and address, and 59% were open to offering up details about their lifestyle, such as the number of children they had or cars they owned.

Three-quarters of interviewees also agreed they would share information concerning their media consumption habits.

A further 73% of those questioned took the same stance for demographic characteristics, like their ethnicity, potentially yielding marketers with the chance to better segment their customers.

"These are things that I think are pretty important to a retailer," Jill Puleri, global retail leader of IBM's global business services, told Reuters. "We have always thought the consumer was pretty guarded with their information."

Over half of IBM's panel would similarly exchange location-based details if this allows for more personalised and targeted shopping, the analysis revealed.

"What it tells us is that they really want a personal experience," said Puleri. "They don't want to find advertising in their mailbox or in their email about things they are never going to buy."

One option, the study suggested, is to provide such information via social networks, a channel that 85% of participants believed could help save them time.

The number of people using email to learn about new products has also declined, IBM found.

Elsewhere, 53% of the sample looked out for goods available on deal or discount, a trend observed in many mature markets during the downturn. However, figures on this metric rose to 69% in Brazil, showing the habit is widespread.

"There is a ton of experimenting going on, but there is not a lot of perfection," Puleri said.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff