Consumers don’t mind personalisation… if they think it will aid them

With personal digital assistants on the cusp of entering the mainstream, our new report shows that consumers are willing to welcome companies into their living rooms but they have to feel the interaction aids them and they are not simply being marketed to.

The “Digital Innovation: Surviving the Next Wave of Change” report assesses how marketers can ready themselves for forthcoming technological advances. The results suggest that contact through personal digital assistants is set to present a new range of opportunities to brands, despite ongoing and widespread public apprehension about individualisation in marketing.

The findings suggests that many Britons would be happy for personal digital assistants (such as the Amazon Echo) to aid them across a wide range of tasks. Such widespread acceptance of the benefits technology opens the door for personalisation to enter the mainstream and a valuable arena for marketers.

More than four in ten consumers say they would let a personal digital assistant either help them with or undertake activities such as the upkeep of their vehicle (43%), monitoring their diet or fitness (both 43%), recommending holidays (42%), and suggesting new things to try (41%). Meanwhile, more than a third would let them assist with or do such tasks such as recommending leisure activities (38%), sorting out home finances (35%), and assisting with grocery shopping (34%).

Put bluntly, if consumers feel they will benefit they will share a wealth of information through these technologies with brands. This could allow marketers to be much more subtle in how they tailor ads and information to individuals and could even end up feeding directly into the development of new products.



However, despite the potential widespread appeal of personal digital assistants, there continues to be widespread scepticism of the individualisation of marketing in general. Approaching half (45%) of British consumers are not happy with the idea of any personalisation of the information, recommendations and advertising they receive, a figure that increases with age.

This is particularly true when it comes to advertising. YouGov Profiles data shows that more than half (54%) of Britons feel “creeped out” by personalised adverts and approaching six in ten (57%) say that seeing adverts that are too personal can “put me off clicking on them.”


While individualisation has been one of the key aspects of the digital innovation of the last decade, consumers are broadly quite resistant to it. It seems that many simply don’t like to feel as though they are being marketed to. However, with the likes of VR and personal digital assistants, we are on the cusp of yet another new wave of change. This will lead to possibilities for some brands and pratfalls for others.

Our brand tracking data shows that in recent periods of big technological change there have been a number of high profile casualties. The likes of BlackBerry and Woolworths didn’t adapt quickly enough to rapidly changing environments and there is nothing to stop other big brands suffering similar fates today. Not understanding or appreciating the opportunities and challenges afforded by the likes of personal digital assistants could set some brands apart from their rivals – and not in a good way.

The “Digital Innovation: Surviving the Next Wave of Change” Report is based on an entirely new approach to research. Representative surveys among 250,000 Britons each year have been used to create a database with more than 190,000 data points about consumers’ attitudes, behaviours and brand use. YouGov’s Reports offer relevant insights and practical recommendations for organisations, and are easily extendable into bespoke areas.