Keynote recap: Kristin Foster talks personalization in action at CMA 2023


Personalization enhances experiences across the customer journey and there is now an expectation from consumers that they receive personalized and relevant experiences not just in stores, but also online.  

Kristin Foster, 84.51°’s senior vice president of data science, recently shared her insights on the need to deliver personalized experiences to customers during a keynote at the Category Management Association’s CMA SIMA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. During the “Personalization in action” session, Foster joined Natesh Shetty, group product manager at Kroger, to share how both retailers and customers benefit from personalization and how 84.51° is helping retailers deliver it at scale.

Foster explained how personalization involves a mutual exchange of value: Customers want to save time, save money and be inspired—and they want it to be easy. By delivering personalized and relevant shopping experiences, retailers and brands can create that value for customers. In return, it drives customer engagement and establishes loyal habits that retain customers and grow the business. 

Because data privacy is a primary concern for shoppers when it comes to personalization (they are looking for transparency in whether their data is sold, how is the data being used behind the scenes, what benefit they get from providing a phone number, etc.)​, Foster urged any retailer or brand building out their personalization platform to make customer privacy and transparency a top priority. She emphasized that 84.51° and Kroger are committed to transparency around the use of data and value exchange, and that it should be a non-negotiable with any company working with data. 

Foster referenced 84.51° research where we hear directly from customers that they appreciate the time and money savings that Kroger and 84.51°’s personalized loyalty programs provide them. According to 84.51° research, the top attributes they cite from the content and experiences they receive include:

  • Saves me Money

  • Brings me Value

  • Relevant to Me

Personalization’s ability to deliver on these attributes makes it an increasingly critical part of the retail strategy.

Foster also explained that while personalization is not new, the ability to do it at scale for millions of households is. But achieving that scale and driving the best possible customer experiences, she said, requires the adoption of and investment in data, technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

She explained how embracing AI — the ability of a machine to do tasks and process data faster than humans — can increase the ability of individuals to make more informed decisions; and that’s why it’s critical to bring together data science and human expertise to make optimal business decisions.

And now that it has entered the mainstream and is transforming every industry, Foster emphasized the need for everyone – regardless of role – to raise their AI IQ and to prioritize responsible AI in their organizations, including having the proper governance and safeguards in place.

Ultimately, Foster emphasized, personalization is no longer an option, it’s an expectation — and the time is now to invest in the data, technology and resources needed to do it right to create valuable experiences for customers.

When working to achieve it, she outlined the elements of data, technology and science that must all be present for success. After defining the desired customer benefits, the comprehensive strategy begins with a foundation of high-quality data assets and investment in a powerful tech stack. Then, the data science and algorithms can go to work to create a personalized experience that’s relevant and beneficial to every shopper every time.

Learn more about the power of personalization.

We’re leading a data revolution in the retail business, and we’re looking for partners who are ready for a deeper, more personal approach to customer engagement.

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