A sixth sense for exactly what customers need

Today, whether we’re rug rats or retirees, we have the world at our fingertips. We remember less on our own yet have access to more information than ever. We can see data on-demand, and we have easy ways to learn from other people around the globe.

As consumers, we utilize this information to make better decisions and get the answers we need to decide on the products and services we choose to bring into our lives and where we hang our hats of loyalty. We pride ourselves on doing the research, on having a say, and on feeling confident we did our due diligence before making decisions.

In the future we may not have to “MacGyver” much about what products and services best serve us. Because brands and retailers will be so invested in knowing us, they will be able to predict our needs before we know we have them.

We are starting to see glimmers of it today: reminders from your pharmacist when you are due for a refill; recommendations of what nutrients your body needs based on body and blood type; replenish updates from our refrigerators; outfit recommendations based on past behaviors, fit and occasions; 3D scanned body avatars to help us navigate the perfect fit; birthday perks; milestone acknowledgements and more.

However, we have just begun to see the possibilities of where personalization can go. As we see the emergence of “consumers as the brand,” connectivity continues to heighten and acceptance of the possibilities broadens. We will see personalization truly become a 1-1 dynamic, where data isn’t just aggregated to consumer profile groupings but targeted on an individualized basis.

The key to the evolution of personalization will be the accuracy of context around data collected and proof of utilitarian benefits. It will need to be illustrative of the ways in which it empowers consumers and intentionally enhances life. Advances need to be authentically purposeful and capable of immersive one-to-one delivery while also delivering exponential benefits to both the consumer and the brand. Trust and accuracy will be paramount to the future of where personalization can go.

Imagine a world where our minds are freed from remembering the mundane, unlocking the space for more complex (higher) thought process. My mobile phone can serve as a virtual assistant in addition to “our device, ” proactively identifying information that helps us to better optimize our days, with an understanding of our habits and interests and helping think through daily decisions with recommendations based on patterns and past outcomes.

It could identify patterns of meetings with clients that consistently run past the designated timeframe in our calendars, or send us reminders on optimal times to leave for the airport based on whether the flight is international or domestic and the specific airline’s rules and regulations.

It could read RFID, UFC, QR and bar codes in a ubiquitous fashion, giving us unparalleled insights to product information and comparative studies, and enable online-offline access to information.

It could further power the two-way conversation between brands and consumers. Brands will be able to see us more holistically and make customized recommendations based on our individual needs and wants. It could open an honest two-way dialogue where customers have explicit control of the data they are sharing for personalization, which will also aid trust and this dialogue itself.

While digital-native brands who are born on online data capture home in on the possibilities of personalization, we are seeing some of tomorrow’s possibilities come to fruition today.

Making Personal Care, Personal

Function of Beauty, a beauty brand that lets you design your own shampoo and conditioner, is breaking down barriers by democratizing personalized care. At its core, they understand we are all comprised of different chemistry and have unique needs. From hair type to structure to scalp characteristics, the brand is invested in delivering products designed specifically to reinvigorate the hair of each one of its customers.

Not only do customers receive their personalized formulation, each bottle is customized to speak to its user—“Function of Melissa,” for example—making a product you paid for also feel like a gift.

The key to continued growth will be ensuring they are consistently analyzing data and feedback and evolving their formulation to cater to a diverse variety of hair types.

Putting Wellness in Their Hands

With a growing focus on nutrition and wellness, we have also seen an increase in the number of personalized direct-to-consumer supplement companies. To better serve customers, new providers have doubled down on their investments in personalization. They have built entire platforms that initiate customer relationships and offer a deep dive into understanding current habits, needs, and deficits to constantly iterate on feedback from customers and improve its recommendation engine.

Care/Of, a direct-to-consumer vitamin and supplement company, is focused on demystifying balanced approaches to wellness. Its acquisition of app LabLyfe allows it to tap into a database that actively tracks users’ performance and current wellness challenges across stress, digestion, and skin issues in order to obtain a more holistic view of customers and provide personal recommendations.

Since its inception, Care/of has had over 5 million people take its online quiz designed to aid product recommendation, and it has seen sales increase 200% year-over-year, according to CEO Craig Elbert.

Private Labels for Personal Needs

Thrive Market, a membership-based organic food delivery service, reports having more than 1,000 data points of useful customer information that it harvests for everything from personalization to informing decisions around product development.

The benefit of investing in data to create a 360-view of the customer not only serves them directly but also supports how the company is thinking differently about customer acquisition and retention methods.

Recently the company launched a quiz where members are invited to share more about what they want to see on the platform. Thrive Market then personalizes the online experience for participants based on that. They see an 85% completion rate on that quiz.

By analyzing data from each customer and unlocking an understanding around every-day consumption, they are growing their private label brand sales by creating products their customers crave and those that align with their values and their dietary goals.

The possibilities for where personalization can go are limitless as long as brands remain intent on keeping the core purpose of data collection and delivery genuine and authentic. By delivering access to products and services customers may not be aware of or realize they need, the acceptance of a two-way dialogue will continue to empower its evolution as long as the conversation is consistent across channels.