One of the biggest trends or movements in the past 12 months has been the focus on the personal or individual experience of a consumer. This has come from consumer-led expectation and demand, and the disruptive players who have spotted where traditional services were lacking and provided a user centric alternative. 

Not only have we witnessed a continuation of the disruption Uber caused in 2015 to traditional taxi services, but now other business stalwarts are being threatened by consumer centric solutions such as Purple Bricks for Real Estate and LawPath for Law firms. Market power has swung to the retailer or service that has the most direct relationship with the end customer, and personalisation is one way that this can happen. 

One of the biggest game changers has been the use of personal data to generate personalised experiences. This change has been rapid and often takes place under our noses on social media and with our Google searches - we are being categorised with algorithms and modelling based on our search history, our Facebook ‘likes’, buying behaviour and browsing on Gumtree or Ebay.

Online music is an example of the positive effect of personalisation. Our data is collected from song purchases, browsing/searches, play history etc. and then song or album recommendations are offered based on what other people have also bought. Research with iTunes has shown that this personalisation by recommendations increases buying by more than 50% in groups exposed to recommendations vs those without. 

This kind of personalisation is about ‘getting under the skin’ of users to predict what they like and want. The popular players for online music (iTunes, Spotify and Pandora) all offer personalisation in different ways, and it is the user experience of this personalisation that will shape preference and repeat business. 

And it’s not just search engines and algorithms that are driving our thirst for personalised experiences. 2015 and 16 saw the tidal rise in popularity of the fitbit to personalise your fitness and in 2017 we’re likely to see hyper-personalisation (explicitly bespoke products and services) led by advancements in DNA and 3D-printing, move from fad to full blown consumer trend. We’re already seeing advertisements for DNA testing on mainstream TV with ancestry.com providing DNA-based family trees, and biological and behavioural personalisation will continue to feature in health and life style products in 2017.

Whilst businesses like Apple and Google are now using what they learn about individuals to apply it to a demographic, in the future we’ll see more and more businesses using what they learn about each person to ensure that they have an individually tailored and ongoing personalised experience. This concept is akin to the old fashioned store keeper who knew all of his customers on a personal level, but in a digital world it’s possible to create this type of customer experience without necessarily engaging in one-to-one interaction. 

Success in this area will depend largely on how personalisation is developed into a business model. Whilst we all like to feel catered to, we also like to feel in control. So there needs to be a balance between being understood and being empowered to make our own choices. Likewise, whilst we all like the convenience of online products and services, humans also crave positive human interaction. Ultimately, the businesses that can most effectively manage all of these human qualities will lead the way in 2017. 


Read more about human-centric design in our blog on Co-Creative Customers and The Rise of the Human.

Wondering how your business or organisation can be part of the user-centric innovation movement? We offer a range of Design Thinking and Innovation Training Programs that teach and embed user-centric practises. Please get in touch to find out more:

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