The Elastic Generation.

Also referred to as ‘Gen X’, ‘Baby Boomers’ or the ‘Grey Panther’, the ‘Elastic Generation’ are often forgotten about. They get their name from the fact that they keep ‘bouncing back’.

Living during a time when the three life stages were still held as truth (education, married with children, retirement), they were able to bounce back from the belief that 50 and 60 year olds were ‘past it’.

However, the average baby born today is meant to have a life expectancy of 142 years old!

That changes things a bit, right?

In fact, this generation are the most confident with themselves, and much wealthier than the younger generations. This is giving way to a generation of people who are new parents, experiencing ‘grey gap years’, entrepreneurs, and returning students.

We’re not giving this generation enough credit.

This generation invented the internet. Yet, we patronise them for being digitally inept. We stereotype them into grey haired, sensible-clothed incontinent grandparents who are only interested in Saga holidays, life insurance and talking about the weather.

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It is often thought that the media is a mirror to society. However, brands are not paying them enough attention. 74% of this generation say that brands are not relevant for them and as a result, pay no attention to ads.  Yet, this generation are potentially the most financially lucrative customers.

There are two main issues contributing to the relevance deficiency:

  1. Advertisers are spending just 5% of their ad spend targeting this group currently.
  2. Images are not a true reflection of this generation, and are causing them to feel patronised and stereotyped.

When you compare the images below with the images above, you can see the monumental chasm between how this generation is perceived by society and brands (above), and the reality of how this generation look and feel (below).

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So let’s stop focusing all of our attention on Millennials and Gen Z, but start celebrating the elastic generation and the contribution they make.


Sources:  TIME,  Marie Stafford (JWT), Forbes





Personalised Experiences Part 4: How To Capture Data Compliantly

Any topic relating to customer data can be tricky.

The key is fully understanding the regulations, doing what is right for the consumer and doing ‘compliance by design’.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR became law on 25th May 2016, but doesn’t come into force until the 25th May 2018.

This will affect all data processors.

Brexit may mean that changes to these regulations is likely to occur again. However, it is certain that there will be some regulations similar to these.

In summary, there is a new definition of what constitutes personal data – it now also includes ‘any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’. This means that the majority of online data is now considered personal data – including data such as IP addresses (when put with another bit of data with it, for example).

The regulations also set out a range of new and clarified consumer rights and organisation obligations, including:

  1. Consumer consent has to be unambiguous. Therefore there needs to be a clear affirmative action.

This means:

  • ‘silence or pre-ticked boxes’ do not constitute consent
  • Some channels may suffer as a result, so statements and wording needs to be optimised to limit impact. It is recommended to assess the impact that ‘opt-in’ may have on the database.

2. Consumers have the right to privacy by default. Therefore permission must be actively collected.

This means:

  • Opt-in/out boxes cannot be set to ‘in’
  • Privacy settings must be set to block contact and consumers must have to un-tick a box in order to receive marketing comms.

3. Consumers have the right to the erasure of personal information (also known as ‘the right to be forgotten’). This is one of my favourite subjects to discuss at the moment.

This means:

  • Some data can be retained in order to remember you have forgotten but this must be minimised – for example, the customer’s name and the fact they’ve asked to be forgotten
  • If the customer forgets they wanted to be forgotten, the latest consent will always override previous requests.

4. Consumers have the right to data portability. Therefore it should be easy for consumers to switch providers.

5. Consumers have the right to privacy by design. Therefore data protection must be visibly planned into projects from the outset.

This means:

  • Data protection assessment must be completed for new tech or new data
  • Record keeping and audit trails will be required
  • A data protection officer role must be recruited

6. The right to opt-out of profiling and associated processes. Therefore some profiling will now need consent.

This means:

  • Any automated processing which evaluates personal interests or predicts and analyses people may need consent
  • Profiling with ‘legal effects’ will need explicit consent and profiling for direct marketing will need an ‘opt out’ model.

7. A new definition of what constitutes a data breach. Therefore there must be a new process for a data breach.

This means:

  • Organisations must inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) no later than 72 hours after the breach has been discovered
  • If it is a high risk, it must be communicated with consumers in plain language

Now we know how to be compliant, the next blog post will look at how to capture the data to design for personalised experiences.

Personalised Experiences Part 3: Agree What Data Is Most Relevant

There are essentially two types of customers that engage with a brand – those that are known and those that are unknown.

pic 51. Known customers

With known customers, there is an opportunity to deliver highly personalised experiences at an individual level across all channels.

We can target and engage them based on what we know about their needs and preferences, as well as where they are on their customer journey. This will help prioritise messaging and content to ultimately drive advocacy, sales and revenue.

2. Unknown customers

With unknown customers, personalisation becomes restricted across limited channels.

Essentially the more we know about our customers, the more we can personalise our communications for them.

pic 6

But it’s not just any data that we need to gather about our customers. We only need to attain what we need and what is relevant.

When working out what data is relevant to collect, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve by personalising the experience. I will be exploring this in detail in the blog post on data signals.

But for now, let’s start by understanding the different types of data that could help you understand more about your customer, where they are and what they need:

  • Static Data

This is the data that doesn’t change, or at least not very frequently. For example – first name, last name, email address and date of birth.

This is usually collected through registration on a website.

  • Dynamic Data

This is data that changes frequently. It could include things like browsing or purchasing data.

There are a number of different ways to collect this data.

  • Contextual data

Contextual data is useful if you want to personalise an experience based on external factors such as the weather, the time of day that a customer visits your website, or events such as Valentine’s Day.

Once you have mapped the types of data you would like to collect including static, dynamic and contextual data, you will need to understand the regulations. My next blog post in this series will explore how to capture data compliantly.

Personalised Experiences Part 2: How to Leverage The Opportunities.

When people ask me what I do as ‘PCE Manager’, I say I’m like a personal trainer. A personal trainer knows their customers and their customer’s needs, and they create a program tailored to suit those. A company creating personalised experiences will do exactly that, but on a larger scale.

Very few companies in FMCG are doing PCE.

Although we’re not yet seeing many FMCG companies doing this, we can look to travel, credit card and internet companies to see how, when done well, PCE can increase engagement, conversion and ultimately sales.

This means we have an unprecedented opportunity.

Let’s quickly recap what I think the opportunities of doing this are –

The opportunity is to build an unshakeable understanding of a company’s most valuable audience. It’s about understanding when they are most receptive, and developing content that is relevant and present when the customer is most resonant (right place, right message, right time). The opportunity is to provide what feels like a personal brand experience at scale.

Personalisation and mass customisation is the future way of marketing brands.

pic 4

So how do you do this?

Personalisation at scale requires businesses to:

  1. Agree what data is most relevant
  2. Understand the regulation to capture data compliantly
  3. Capture the relevant data to design for personalised experiences
  4. Map the customer needs within the customer journey
  5. Understand the data signals for each part in the customer journey
  6. Create and align content and experiences that meet those needs
  7. Get the right technology in place to deliver personalised experiences in an automated way at scale.

Each of these points will become a standalone blog post in this series on ‘Personalised Experiences’.

Personalised Experiences

I’ve not written a blog post for a while, so this is the start of a new series of blog posts all about Personalised Experiences – and lessons learned from my new(ish) role as Personalised Consumer Experience (PCE) Manager at Nestle UK&I.

This blog post is the first in this new series.

Part 1. An Introduction to PCE

PCE is about harnessing the vast amounts of data which exists on consumers (or customers) today, to deliver a more relevant and personalised experience.

It requires businesses to service customers with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.

pic 1

This is important because customers’ expectations have changed.

We can look to the three established tech giants to see how behaviour, and expectations are being fuelled – Amazon has been showing us products outside our search criteria that match our preferences for years, Netflix recommends programs and films based on our viewing habits, and Google auto-fills search suggestions based on what it knows about us.

Customers are becoming so accustomed to dynamic personalised experiences, that it’s odd when they don’t occur.

The expectation is not so much that companies can, but should, provide personalised experiences on a regular basis.

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The pay-off.

Personalised experiences enable more relevant communications with customers which in turn, leads to improved acquisition and retention, enhanced loyalty and increased revenue.pic 3

By making the journey from awareness to conversion more personalised, companies will reduce waste from the traditional broadcast approach. Instead, they will focus on what is relevant for the customer and move more customers down the funnel more efficiently.

A good example is the Co-operative Travel which saw a massive 217% increase in revenue since it started personalising its website.

The upside of PCE is great, however it does take commitment and in some cases, transformation in the way businesses work. To fully leverage the opportunities, requires a change in mindset, processes and capabilities.

Read more about this in part two in this series…

Stop excluding the high street from digital transformation

I have a passion for helping big organisations transform and adapt to the changing and complex, connected world we live in today.

I also feel a great deal of sadness when I see high street shops close down. Empty buildings in my home town is becoming the new norm. The once bright lights, buzz, a place to socialise and enjoy an experience together. Now its full of sad, grey empty shells. 

But I also love internet shopping. Who couldn’t say they enjoy the perks of getting whatever you want at the touch of a button in your own home? The likes of and leading the way in the female fashion world really have taken the industry by storm – with highly competitive pricing, choice and excellent customer experience. The digital highstreet is an enjoyable place to be.

But there’s still something about the physical high street that I long for. And the ability to try things on still remains an advantage. 

So what can we do to keep our shops? Here are some thoughts I had whilst sitting on the train the other day:

1. Understanding customers

Why are all shops on the high street open at the same time? Surely some people only want to buy things at certain times.

The internet is open 24hours a day. While that’s probably a unrealistic target, how about closing on weekdays and opening in the evenings? I reckon shops need to reconsider what they know about their customers behaviour and do something different.

2. The shopping experience 

The only way to compete with the online space is to do what it does, better.

For most big retailers they have the advantage of already having a solid loyal customer base. Shops need to hold on to them – Offer them the ability to check out other prices, other brands. And make sure yours is the best. The tech is already available. 

One of the best usp’s for high street shops is  ability to try things on. Make your changing rooms a big deal and a good experience. Make them big, have big mirrors, make them social and put the fun back into shopping with friends. That’s the real USP of the high street. Go over the top – offer refreshments and other perks. 

3. Connect on and offline 

Shops need to make the experience visible and appeal to their online audience.

They should get them talking to other customers and sharing their offline experience, online. They should get reviews up in the shop, make it easy to see what “people like them” bought with those shoes etc. It’s all about making the experience as easy as online. 

I loved this idea – social media-informed digital clothing rail launches as part of campaign to boost towns fortunes through digital. It’s essentially a ‘live feed’ digital clothing rail shows when an item on the rail is trending – or not – on Facebook or Instagram.

More of this please!

The best free online digital courses

Forget NetFlix. I’m a self-confessed MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) junky.

I love learning new things, learning at my own pace and on the move, so MOOCs and online coursers are perfect for people like me.

Online courses are becoming more common, but which are right for you?

Here’s my list of the top five:

  1. Coursera

I couldn’t possibly miss this one out. It’s by far my favourite – its mission is literally to ‘provide universal access to the world’s best education’.

Coursera is a platfrom that partners with top universities and organisations around the world, to offer courses online for anyone to take.

There are hundreds of different courses available at different times which include short video lectures, interactive quizzes, peer graded assessments and a forum to connect with other learners and instructors. There’s even an option to purchase a certificate after you complete the course for a small fee.

I’ve completed many courses with Coursera including: ‘Change, Innovation and Creativity’, ‘Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Brand Management: Aligning Business Brand & Behaviour’.

There are plenty of topics to choose from – from arts and humanities, computer science, engineering to learning Chinese. There’s also more specialist subjects which you can pay to do.

  1. The Digital Garage

Another one from Google. This one’s great because the very first step once you’ve signed up is to take a survey which then helps create a personalised learning plan with different lessons just for you based on your goals. The videos are beautiful too!

  1. FutureLearn

Okay, so I haven’t used this platform yet but I’ve signed up to a ‘Transmedia Storytelling’ MOOC that starts at the end of January, so I’ll let you know how that goes…

It’s got some pretty good reviews and its run by a privately owned company owned by the Open University with 76 partners around the world including the British Library, the National Film and Television School, professional bodies such as the ACCA, and businesses like the BBC.

There are tons of courses ranging in length – from three weeks to ten weeks long – the subjects are also diverse and the videos look good too.

  1. Google Analytics Academy

I completed the ‘Digital Analytics Fundamentals’ course – a subject I really knew very little about. It covers what data is most important for different business objectives, analysis techniques (e.g. segmentation and context), conversions, attribution, creating a measurement plan and a deep dive into Google Analytic reports.

All in all a very thorough overview from a trusted source.

There are also more specialist courses such as ‘Google Tag Manager Fundamentals’ and ‘Mobile App Analytics’.

  1.  Canvas

This one’s interesting because anyone can apply to run a course (as long as you meet the criteria).

Lots of MOOCs available, specific to the digital industry. Only some courses have certificates, so check before enrolling if that’s important to you. There’s also a good discussion network where you can chat with other participants, to help you along the way.