The age of personalization: why industries should offer services based on taste

Published July 12, 2019   |   

As a college student, I have many places I need to be. Between my college classes, my dorm, restaurants, concerts, my family home, grocery stores, friends’ apartments, meetings, hiking trails, local events, coffee shops, hot springs, sports games and an internship, I am constantly on the go. It is not unusual for me to spend over three hours commuting every day. Normally these commutes would be something to dread, but I have actually found them to be what I look forward to during my day.

Why personalization works: a use case

A few years ago I, like millions of others, was part of the population that despises commutes. However, my attitude completely changed when I was introduced to the Spotify music streaming app. Until that point, I had used many other music streaming systems, but grew tired of the same songs and the time it took to find new content I could enjoy. When I discovered Spotify, I found that it changed my listening habits dramatically. I could listen to new songs from my favorite genre or one of my favorite artists. I started to enjoy listening because Spotify offered me a curated, personalized experience. What truly changed my commutes, though, was my introduction to Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist.
Spotify creates this playlist every Monday just for me based on my music listening tastes. They collect data on me, and analyze it in order to uncover what drives my preferences. I specifically remember the first time I discovered Discover Weekly, because I spent the entire night listening to it playing on repeat.
According to Spotify, Discover Weekly listeners stream more than double the amount of users who don’t listen to the playlist because of the personalized experience it offers.”
I have been listening to my Discover Weekly playlist for a couple of years now.  It has quite literally changed the course of my life. I schedule my week more around the release of the playlist than anything else. I take the scenic route to a destination so I can listen to just one more song. And even started streaming music outside of my commutes, making me a recreational music listener.

The need for personalized services in all industries

Personalization has not just hit the music industry, however. E-commerce and other forms of online retail have also been using personalization to help customers find the right product at the right time. Amazon’s recommendation engine, for instance, drives 35% of its revenue. Many other e-commerce websites partner with AI and analytics start-ups to provide their customers with personalized shopping experiences.
Another industry starting to benefit from personalization is finance. Albeit, the transition to incorporate new data-driven technologies has been very slow. Finance lags far behind other industries in how it determines consumer trends and tastes, and it is not nearly as effective as it should or could be. The good news is that banks have begun the journey towards personalized experiences for consumers. For example, the Russian bank Sberbank has introduced an AI-based tool ‘Tips’, which offers customers personalized financial advice based on their customers’ banking behavior.
A Singapore-based AI and big data startup, Crayon Data has been leveraging personalization on behalf of both the banking and e-commerce industries. Their propriety AI recommendation engine helps banks create, launch, and execute offer campaigns based on their customers’ personal taste. I could not be happier about this. I look forward to the day when my bank can give me personal offers based on my actual preferences. They have my data already, and it will be incredible when they can send me campaign offers tailored to me.

The future scope

One area I know I would also enjoy personalization is in the food sector. I occasionally receive offers for dining discounts, but they are almost always to food options I do not enjoy. I crave a service that can help me find offers for food vendors that I am not yet aware of but will likely enjoy based on my previous transactions. Currently, I have two favorite vendors that account for over 50% of my food purchases every week. I do not have the time or patience to explore other options near me. But this would be completely changed with personalization.
It is clear that personalized recommendations have worked, and we will be seeing a lot more of them as time goes on. I only hope it comes sooner rather than later.
Akin to Spotify and my listening habits, a change in a bank’s effort (or any industry for that matter) to leverage personalization would revolutionize my use of discount offers. Until that time, I will continue to enjoy personalization wherever else I can find it.