The Path to Differentiation Runs Through Personalization


In a crowded market, you need to stand out from the crowd. And even if your industry is commoditizing, there are still ways to do that. You can’t just make a louder noise – you need to make a different noise.

One of the most effective ways to differentiate is through personalization. 71% of consumers expect personalized experiences, but only 34% of companies always provide those experiences. But, before you start seeing dollar signs stack up for the expenses, logistics, and personnel required to create customized products, read this. 

Personalization Requires Segmentation

The simplest (and least expensive) way to start down the path to differentiation is to customize the shopping and brand experience. And it begins with segmentation.

Segmentation is classifying your customers – both existing and potential – based on who they are, what they want, what drives them, and/or what they do. Segments can be very specific (e.g. ”the passionate hobbyist who wants to leave a lasting legacy but doesn’t know where to start”) or more general (e.g. “men looking for gifts”).

The level of segmentation that’s right for your brand depends on the level of effort it will take to segment and the return you can expect from that effort. The more specific the segmentation, oftentimes the better the customer experience with your brand.

Many times, brands look to agencies and partners like Icon to help, from figuring out the right amount of segmentation to who those segments are. One, because it can be a bit of work and most brand marketers are busy doing other things, and two, because brand marketers are rightly experts on their brand but may not have the same deep understanding of their customers. It can be helpful to get an outside perspective here.

Segmentation Requires Data

Once you’ve decided to differentiate your brand through personalized experiences and segment your audience, you’ll need to analyze the right data. We group segmentation data in to three categories:

  • Needs data (aka motivational data) – the motivations and triggers that drive your consumers to need or want your product. People generally don’t care about what your brand or product can do for them until they experience a particular trigger, so it’s paramount that you understand what that is – a pain point, a key milestone or date, a goal, etc. Sometimes it’s a combination. 
  • Behavioral data – tells you what your customers do, like what pages they click on, social profiles they like, emails they open, etc.
  • Value data – the value of the customer to you (both lifetime value and transactional value)

Data Requires Measurement

Good news – you already have some of this data, and what you don’t have is relatively easy to get. Bad news – you have to figure out what to do with it all.

Again, this is where an agency or partner that specializes in persona development, customer journeys, and/or measurement plans can be a huge help. Because, while this data exists, it exists in an environment with a lot of other data that might not be relevant. Agencies that work in measurement planning are able to organize data in such a way that allows your company to utilize it for segmentation, personalization, and ultimately differentiation. 

Differentiation Path

Differentiation happens in the mind of consumers, rather than solely the development of the product or service. Creating unique, customized experiences, tailoring products to the individuals purchasing them, allowing customers to co-create – all methods of differentiation that drive to the heart of what consumers crave: A personalized experience from a brand that knows them, gets them, and values them.


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