Pickles or Personalization

The Potential for Personalization and Customization

By Kayla Kaplan

For years personalization has been lauded to be the biggest trend with the most potential to revolutionize the food industry. Headlines cite cutting edge technology, advancements in food and nutrition science, innovative products, and hyper-segmentation as driving forces behind the inevitable boom of personalization. 

Maybe this is why my omnichannel food shopping experience is so frustrating. 

I’ve been reading these headlines, keeping up with the research, subscribing to all the newsletters, staying up to date on product releases and CPG startup news, and by all accounts I should be enveloped in revolutionary food shopping experiences. Instead, I’m trying to figure out why my go-to food retailer suggested Bread & Butter pickles as a substitution when my preferred oat milk brand was unavailable. I’m wondering why, in this era of booming innovation, is it so hard to find basic product information like the Nutrition Facts or an accurate ingredient list when shopping for food online? 

The food industry has an incredible amount of potential. However, like many other industries with a hunger for innovation, food innovators may be so focused on what they could achieve in the long-term that they fail to create a solid foundation in the present. A foundation that would ensure consumers can actually find products that brands, retailers, and manufacturers have worked so hard getting to shelves.

All signs point to a lack of information; the data simply isn’t there and until it is the idea of personalization is clickbait. Without good data the industry is limited to customization and the distinction between personalization and customization is vastly underestimated.

Customization is going to a coffee shop, picking a drink from their menu, adding a few pumps of your favorite syrup and swapping out their default milk option for another. Maybe you ask them to add whipped cream and a few shakes of a topping from another menu item that sounded good. You finish your order, add your name to that drink, and enjoy.

Personalization is going to a coffee shop that created a menu just for you. They baked the pastries just how you like it, they only offer the milks you actually want to order, and they have various suggestions for a drink based on your order history. Your name is already on the cup and it’s ready as soon as you walk in, paired with a smaller cup of whipped cream for your dog that they see accompanies you on the walk for your daily coffee. 

The personalization coffee shop took the time to get to know your habits, preferences, taste, and lifestyle. The customization coffee shop did some general research on coffee trends in your area and assumes you’ll be happy within the confines of the menu built out of that market research- and they’re not wrong. Customization is mainstream, it’s expected that every coffee shop will have options we can craft an order from. And don’t get me wrong, customization is nice when it works out, but personalization is unbeatable.

To achieve personalization we have to have good data. Along with accessing this data we then need an efficient way to communicate it, processes seamlessly integrated to ensure it stays accurate, and the ability to do so instantaneously and continuously so the data is current enough to keep up with the consumer. Let’s start with the basics, product information that’s consistent and accurate across the digital and physical marketplaces. Once we have provided a seamless omnichannel experience we will see how consumers respond and, with their trust, work to implement personalization.  

This is exactly why Foodspace exists. CPG brands work with Foodspace because they need help mapping their product data to retail taxonomies; this is the key information retailers use to categorize products, which creates visibility . With Foodspace Tech brands complete all shopper centric product data within retail taxonomies, including hidden fields and additional categories to maximize shopper discoverability.

Until then, I guess I’ll be enjoying pickles in my morning coffee and cereal instead of oat milk.


About the Author

Kayla Kaplan (she/her) is Head of Nutrition Communications at Foodspace Technology. Her passion is food through an intersectional approach centered around food justice and sovereignty. Kayla has a Master’s of Science in Food & Nutrition Policy & Programs with a focus on Innovation and Communication and a background in Critical Quantitative Food Studies research.
Connect with Kayla on LinkedIn and Instagram.

About Foodspace

Foodspace is a computer vision technology company that delivers solutions for the Grocery and CPG industry. eCommerce teams can simply drag and drop their product images into Foodspace, and within seconds their vision AI attributes and maps digital data to complete any and all retail specific fields. With #JustGoodData, Foodspace saves eCommerce teams time, gives them control of their product data, and provides peace of mind that their products are winning on the digital shelf. 
Connect with Foodspace on LinkedIn and please tag us if you share this article.

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