Technology providers have been pushing retailers the idea of personalized products for consumers, but a study finds that personalization may not be the top priority for consumers  

The idea of consumers wanting ‘personalization’ has become widely accepted among retail technology providers, however, according to a new study by Deloitte, personalization is the last factor that consumers consider when choosing a retailer.

Deloitte’s report “The consumer is changing, but not how you think,” explores the shifts among 4000 adult US consumers of various generational, income and ethnic categories.

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According to Deloitte, the population is increasingly becoming heterogeneous as millennials that represent 30% of the people are the most diverse generational cohort; 44 % belong to ethnic and racial minorities. Only 25% of the population of baby boomers belong to ethnic and racial minorities. These demographic changes are seen to be playing out in specific ways and specific industries. The widely repeated generalizations, for example, – e-commerce is killing retail; fail to capture customer attention adequately.

The study found that in 2018, offline store visits were up overall, and consumers did travel to more stores and more often. There was an 8% increase to the number of visits to travel, hospitality, and entertainment destinations; a 16% increase in trips to quick service restaurants, convenience, and fuel stations. Even brick-and-mortar retail stores saw a 2% increase in traffic. Grocery-related trips were also high with a 7.7% increase in 2018, while there was a notable decrease in visits to apparel stores by 1.7% and department stores 10.3%.

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The study mentions that consumers still look to product, value, and convenience as the most critical attributes while making decisions. A look for a great deal topped the list of 11 factors with over 17% customers noting it as a top priority, followed by availability of products to almost 15%. The study notes that unlike the general idea of, attributes of the modern consumer like personalized experiences and core values ranked lowest among their priorities. Convenience, ease of checkout, variety, and quality had around 10% of customers opting for them each, but personalization ranked lowest at 3.3% of customers choosing this reason to select the retailer.

Experts believe that these findings fly in the face of many beliefs and retail publications and articles in technology that over the past few years have favoured the general liking of personalization. These findings affirm the need to understand the target audience, their attitudes, and behaviours substantially.

With greater diversity and a significant urban-rural divide, it has become essential to not rely on assumptions but experience and data.

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