And Now, a Pickup Truck

I remember reading “The One to One Future” in the 90s and feeling bemused, overwhelmed and even a little excited about the customized, personalized experiences that the not-so-distant future had in store for consumers.

“It is information about individual consumers that will keep a marketer functioning in the 1:1 future. Without individual information, as opposed to market or segment information, 1:1 marketing would not be possible.” (Peppers and Rogers, The One to One Future, 1993)

Since Peppers and Rogers published their seminal work, we have all the technology we need for data collection, classification, analysis, transfer and scalability. Marketers know our gender, age, location, income, and on and on. So the one-to-one future has arrived.

Or has it? This past week brought a few examples of personalization gone awry.

Welcome to the Marriott

I started traveling for business about the time “The One to One Future” was in the works. I’ve been a Rewards Member for at least that long and have stayed at millions (well, dozens, anyway) of Marriott properties here and abroad. So they’d be in a position to know my travel preferences down to the molecular level, right?

Here’s how I was greeted when I checked into my room last week in an unnamed location (okay, it was Detroit):


This makes DIETSHE,MAX/MR feel…like they shouldn’t bother.

A truck that’s as clever as you

Now comes in the mail a fancy promotional brochure for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline (pickup truck). You see that it (the brochure) is personalized and has the name of the dealer and all (I think this used to be known as “print-on-demand”) :


…and that the brochure promises that the truck is “loaded with ingenuity.” What seems to be less LWI (loaded with ingenuity) is the algorithm that led to our getting this brochure. To recap, over the past 15 years we’ve owned a CR-V, a CR-V and, most recently, a CR-V.

Somehow this gives Honda’s software the idea that us single-car city dwellers are yearning for a truck (one year after our new car purchase). Huh?

A new CX standard

There’s a reason for everything, and we can all infer why these things happen the way they do. Years of purchase data and service history are at Honda dealers in three states, inaccessible to marketing. Marriott’s rewards program information doesn’t impact what they can do at the local level.

But I would like to propose a new customer experience standard for these and other organizations: Check to make sure your outcomes aren’t completely off base.