the five p’s of personalisation

Here at Pretty Pragmatic we are in favour of people using our names when communicating to us. In fact, sometimes we get referred to simply as ‘Pretty’ in personalised messaging, which makes us feel flattered. However, it does highlight the errors that can occur in this friendly pursuit.

Personalised marketing is the process of sourcing customer information and using this to create individually personalised messaging as well as specific product offers. Whilst using data in this way can have ‘big brother’ connotations, it can also connect with people on a personal level and short-cut our decision-making process by making things feel more relevant.

The importance of every campaign is not only the quality of the execution, but the accuracy and appropriateness of data which is gathered beforehand. The data can, of course, vary as to what product you’re looking to personalise.

For example, if like Spotify, you were to personalise a playlist for one of your customers, you use the data on what music they commonly listen to. Assuming the customer consents to this as part of the conditions, this should be straightforward and clearly connected to the experience.

Personalisation can be as simple as your first name on an email, recommendations for new movies and TV shows, suggested products based on things you’ve bought before, and not to mention the loyalty-based rewards and discounts on your favourite brands.

We consider the 5 Ps of personalisation in the following sections of this blog namely; Power, Psychology, Purchasing, Pitfalls, and Potential.

1. Power

First up, what is the power of personalisation and who cares?

Giving your customers the feeling that they are valued by your brand and recognising their contribution can help them feel included and valued. Everybody appreciates a personal touch; being treating and acknowledged as an individual rather than a number or transaction. And as such personalisation is increasing in importance for marketers, with 42% of marketers stating personalisation was their top priority for the coming year.

So why would marketers prioritise personalisation? The simple answer is because it works.

A well-known example of a very effective yet simple personalisation campaign is Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’, in which they swapped out their brand name and replaced it with the UK’s most popular names which were printed onto their bottles. The idea that they could share not only a Coke, but also special moments with their breadth of customers turned out to be hugely popular. After printing over 1000 names onto the bottles they received 998 million impressions on Twitter, 235,000 tweets from fans using the #shareacoke hashtag. The campaign created sales of 150 million personalised bottles, impressive considering the decline in demand for fizzy drinks.

2. Psychology

There is a lot more to personalisation than simply wanting a product.

Behind all of this is the psychology and what really makes us feel good about a product with our name on, or why we feel valued when we receive an email that personally greets us. There are many factors as to why we would want a personalised product, such as the sense of ownership or to feel we have something more exclusive and different to everyone else.

According to a study from the University of Texas, we can attribute our preference for personalised experiences down to ‘desire for control’ & ‘information overload’. When you get a product that is tailored to you and your needs it simply makes you feel more in control.

So, as mentioned earlier, presenting pre-thought out options to buy makes life easier for people, but also enhances their feeling of control.

3. Purchasing

How is the success of personalisation reflected in purchasing habits?

Some companies have based their businesses on the ability to personalise products to attract customers. Not On The High Street has used this to their advantage, selling a wide range of products with the option to personalise your goods, making them fantastic ideas for gifts and presents or even to personally tailor your own household items.

Another related example is Oakdene Designs. The founder, Ben Grist, used Amazon and Not On The Highstreet to distribute his personalised designed items, but started whilst at university, growing the business to over £1 million in turnover in just 2 years. This illustrates the effect of the personalisation market within retail – and the success that comes from producing the right products and giving customers the control they want to create something to meet their individual needs.

4. Pitfalls

There are commercial benefits of personalisation. However, what are the potential pitfalls and what implications could there be in getting it wrong?

The question is, is the risk of personalisation worth it? A case where personalisation can go wrong is a misspelt or incorrect first name on an email. Or the assumption that all things you purchase are for your own consumption or use. We’ve all been served with the wrong name and with ‘things we might like’ that we don’t, but these errors are pretty few and far between, so does the greater good outweigh the bad?

A study conducted by Verint found that 40% of customers are willing to forgive mistakes made by brands if they feel the brands know them personally. There is, of course, the question about how do people feel about receiving personalised communications and offers? Some might feel this is a bit intrusive. However, 52% of customers globally say they like being offered a personalised experience, but 51% say that it is important the experience reflects them as a person. Therefore, we need to consider more than just the digital data and start thinking about other personal attributes when creating these offers.

5. Potential

The potential of personalisation is seemingly endless. Technology like Siri can allow us to have a personalised experience using our mobile phone by understanding the tone and sound of our voice, responding to (most of) our questions and queries. Newer products like Alexa for our homes allow us to have our own personal planning system that understands our needs and wants. Amazon’s past purchase solution gives us the opportunity to reorder products at the press of the button, storing our history to ensure the purchase process is even quicker and, arguably, less considered.

Although this may stop you thinking more than twice about re-purchasing a product, it does tap into our ‘tap to pay’ and contactless culture.

Could the potential of personalisation provide predictable revenue for business and predictable spending for consumers? Whilst, the benefits here seem obvious for both parties, we also need to allow for irrational, impulsive, and unpredictable behaviour. Surely, to be truly personal you need to consider the human in people, and predicting that takes more than just data analysis.

We all like to think we’re different and of course, we are. Which is what makes personalisation unique – because each customer is. It’s important to understand the needs of your customers and individuals. With these things in mind, we at Pretty Pragmatic create personas that help identify the differences we each have, promote preferences, and help create the personalisation that customers want and need to feel valued, build trusting relationships, and to create a defining brand.


love/hate island

Love Island has divided the nation with people becoming addicted to – or turned off by – the controversial show.

In a nutshell, the show is based on beautiful young people looking for love, or who love the idea of the fame that comes with appearing on the series. This year they’ve soared in the ratings, dominated conversations amongst friends, families and colleagues. And as if Monday’s weren’t bad enough, tonight’s final means our evening entertainment over the past 7 weeks is coming to an end!!

In our opinion here is where they’ve struggled and smashed it. And it’s all about the LOVE.


As the picture suggests we purchased the coveted water bottles and waited for 3-4 days with bated breath for them to arrive. Alas, no sign and after 1 week we logged our concern. After 2 weeks, this escalated to a complaint. We got a lovely email back explaining we were in the next batch – yey!

So, having forked out the best part of £20 per bottle, how could we feel so high and dry? The email alluded to, and the many social posts indicated, that they just didn’t anticipate the demand and the engine wasn’t quite as well-oiled as the Islanders’ bods! Having a backlog and waiting list certainly highlights the scarcity and potentially drives more demand. But, ultimately customers were left posting in social channels with no response to their enquiries regarding their missing orders. In this day and age, the social media team should be integrated with the service team so they can respond to complaints and compliments alike.

But the success of the product itself just goes to reaffirm that Share a Coke was really onto something – simple personalisation ideas connect with the masses. However, gauging the potential demand and garnering feedback about the product during production could have maximised the sales during this moment in time/moment of madness.


The contestants have gained lots of fans and followers due to their popularity based on their partners, personalities, and looks.  So, whether it’s charcoal toothpaste for a bright white smile, fake tan to emulate their bronzed bodies, or a protein powder to get stacked; they’ve been endorsing these on a daily basis and earning a fortune for the posts and pleasure.

Superdrug is the main sponsor for the show, no surprise with their products being perfectly aligned to the pampering people are craving from luscious lashes to plump pouts. So, all islanders stand to make a pretty penny even if they don’t scoop the competition cash prize of £50k. Proving that influencer marketing can be a viable career with brands looking to align with these relatable reality stars.


Fair play, you can’t knock the variety of content disseminated over the different Love Island channels. The hero content (the main evening programme) provides tonnes of material that gets quickly carved up into social posts and polls that generate loads of engagement.

The spin offs are the winners though i.e. Love Island Reactions and the Love Island Reactions Back Up pages. Great content sourcing and selection, proving curation and commentary mean you don’t need to be the originator to gain attention and make an impact!


The Love Island YouTube channel has regular updates of videos and clips from the show with around 3 or 4 clips uploaded each day. And it’s all fairly basic, slapstick stuff. For example, the most popular piece of content on the official Twitter page was a clip of Kem hitting his head in the hideaway which received over 28,000 likes and over 9,300 retweets.

But the main channel engaging the audience is Instagram with over 1 million followers! Perhaps not surprising when YouGov data shows that the viewers of the show are younger and female. Predictably, their hobbies feature shopping and ‘sitting around doing as little as possible’!

People who like Love Island described the show as ‘addictive’, ‘cringey’, ‘dramatic’, ‘easy to follow’ and ‘bizarre’. On the other hand, people who disliked the show described it as ‘crude’, ’embarrassing’, ‘cringey’, ‘boring’ and ‘bizarre’. So it would seem the reasons for loving or hating this show are fairly similar – one person’s love is another person’s loathe. No judgement.

#LoveWhatYouLove #WatchWhatYouWant #HatersGonnaHate

creating personas

In the first part of this blog series (Persona Segmentation), we talked about identifying the audience and categorising customers as part of the segmentation process, in advance of selecting the personas for creation. Ensuring that the persona collective is as focused and as targeted as possible and that the most important personas are created.

To expedite the process of persona creation and ensure all areas are captured and represented in an easy to digest format we have developed a persona template. See below:

Persona template 2

There are numerous categories that allow us to understand multiple motivations, goals, and drivers for our selected personas that represent a particular subset of the target audience.

Firstly, the overview; This is the mini descriptor and top line demographics of the persona. The ‘pen portrait’ if you like including gender, age, experience, and profession. Illustrations and photography help bring a face and further humanity to the persona.

Next is the personality section, here you can get a sense of understanding of what makes this persona tick and how they are perceived by others. Personality types in our model include: The Advocate; The Campaigner; The Protagonist; The Adventurer and The Maverick.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Defining the brand choices that the persona makes helps us understand their purchase motivations and intentions. The type of clothes someone buys and wears, the media they consume, the car they drive, the transport they take, the tech they use and the food they eat.  All of these choices allow us to understand more about their views, lifestyle and influences.

Channel preferences are also of critical importance in order that we can assess the right mix of comms to create in order to drive more effective dialogue with audiences whether it be text, voice, email, social or direct mail.

Content is king, so they say, but what format makes the difference between passive and active consumption? Depending on the channel and objective the audience could need a range from podcasts and blogs to imagery and video.

The role personas play in the purchase process varies across B2B and B2C, whether they are influencing the sale or making the transaction. Understanding this role and the broader journey is critical for serving the right message, in the right place, at the right moment.

The stage of your life impacts many purchase decisions – the level of disposable income, dependents, time restraints, health and so on. So, whether a persona is a student or retired, such life-cycle stages are important to design loyalty schemes, promotions, and select appropriate events. What individuals get up to in their spare time also gives us a broader view of their work life balance and helps completes the picture of our personas.

The finishing touches are to assess the segment size, the commercial value, and their brand allegiance.

This all builds to clearly define each audience subset’s needs and messaging from your organisation. Because, nowadays, a more targeted approach is essential with customer expectations rising and the need to drive loyalty. 78% of customers state that they are more interested in building relationships with brands that create personalised experiences for them, so understanding their personal needs has now become a fundamental for marketing practitioners.