Four Characteristics that Define Personalization 2.0

Brendan-Witcher Personalization 2.0As someone who focuses on how to drive e Business revenue, Forrester’s Brendan Witcher has been paying close attention to the evolution of Personalization over the years. He’s witnessed its genesis as a set of rudimentary tools that provided product recommendations to broad marketing segments in isolated environments (Personalization 1.0). In recent years, he’s noted its evolution into something vastly different: a complete approach to eCommerce that focuses on the real-time preferences of individual shoppers across multiple devices and channels. He calls this Personalization 2.0.

We were lucky enough to have Brendan as our guest on a recent webinar, where he shed light on what Personalization 2.0 means for retailers and digital shoppers. He was joined by Reflektion’s CMO Kurt Heinemann, who walked the audience through some real world applications of what retailers like Disney, Uniqlo, Converse, and O’Neill Clothing have been doing to better engage their shoppers with Personalization 2.0 (and the revenue and conversion increases they’ve seen as a result).


An important take away from the webinar was Brendan’s tangible definition of the four pillars of Personalization 2.0. They serve as a great guide for anyone who is researching what to look for in a modern eCommerce strategy, as well as a litmus test for retailers to identify whether or not their own approach provides a competitive advantage.

The four characteristics of Personalization 2.0

  1. Each customer is identified and treated as a segment of one through the use of rich customer profiles
  2. Customer data is captured in real-time and dynamically calculates intent
  3. Content is consistently delivered across all devices, screens, and channels
  4. Personalization tools are connected to back-end solutions

While for retailers, the four points listed above are central to identifying effective personalization, Witcher made a great concluding point regarding the consumer’s perspective: “great personalization doesn’t look like personalization. It just looks like a great experience.”

In other words, consumers should no longer have to bear ham-fisted content being shoved in front of their eyes in the form of irrelevant or redundant product recommendations that are the hallmark of Personalization 1.0.

At every single touchpoint, shoppers are providing valuable data about their intent to purchase. It is the responsibility of retailers to provide intuitive and smart digital shopping experiences in return.

Here are a couple examples of what Personalization 2.0 looks like:

A woman returns to a surfware website. Based on her past browsing activity, she’s expressed a preference for dressier items (as opposed to the site’s more prominent surfware merchandise). Here’s what her experience looks like when she types “shorts” into the searchbox. Note that she is not logged in.

blog_oneill_example Personalization 2.0


A parent shopping for their son who likes The Avengers sees recommendations for Avenger related merchandise (as opposed to the items currently trending within their segment):

blog_disney_example Personalization 2.0


A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

Stafford McKay

Stafford is the former Director of Content at Reflektion. He’s passionate about eCommerce Marketing, Technology, and Lake Michigan. When he’s not writing content, he can be found out on the water in the 1938 Chris Craft he shares with his family.