millennials think tank

There’s a fine line between giving shoppers what they want and creeping them out. A new report, “2018 CX Trends Report,” released by InMoment, an experience management company, revealed that personalization features distressed 75 percent of consumers. And brands know they’re guilty of overstepping — 40 percent admitted to sketchy behavior, proving the widening gap between merchants and brands.

“Whether it’s how brands are using personal information or the impact of missed expectations, companies continue to underestimate their customers. Today’s consumers are savvy, they want to be included in decisions, they want transparency, and they want real value in exchange for sharing personal information or spending their money,” said Brennan Wilkie, senior vice president of customer experience at InMoment. “The brands that see the new landscape as an opportunity instead of a burden and focus their efforts on building authentic relationships with customers are seeing massive benefits.”

For the purpose of the survey, InMoment polled 2,000 consumers and 1,000 brands in the U.S. regarding memorability, personalization, new technologies and other aspects of the current consumer experience.

In addition to securing a reputation for being sketchy, brands also risk losing consumers if they have experiences that are overly intrusive. According to the research, 22 percent of consumers reported that they would opt to purchase alternative brands should they have a lackluster experience. But perhaps even more damaging, the survey found that not only will shoppers bring their business elsewhere, they’ll tell their friends, too.

“One in five will tell friends, while one in ten will share Big Brother-type experiences on social media,” the report said. “And many will compound the negative impact — leaving a brand and telling their friends, leading to lost customers and reputation.”

The research also debunked myths surrounding the all-powerful Millennial shopper. According to the research, Millennials are the most wary about sharing personal data — 22 percent of Millennials reported creepy experiences, compared to 13 percent of Baby Boomers. Of course, it should be considered that Millennials are more active in the digital shopping arena than older generations.

The most guilty brands and retailers tend to be of the online-only variety. Twenty-seven percent of Millennials reported e-tailer features as distressing.

And while it may be appealing to fully digitize in-store experiences and enhance online channels with artificial intelligence, the research findings suggest that consumers still prefer dealing with humans.

“More than six out of ten (65 percent) of consumers report that ‘staff interaction’ highly influenced their decision to buy more products from a brand, while another 65 percent reported that access to educators and experts is highly influential,” the report said.

Alternatively, the report found that subpar interactions with store associates can destroy a brand experience. Seventy-four percent of consumers polled named poor interactions with staff as the main factor in a lackluster brand experience.

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