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Interview: You Have Everything you Need to do Personalization at Scale, with Michelle Bacharach, co-founder and CEO of FINDMINE

Michelle Bacharach, co-founder and CEO of FINDMINE, outlines how brands can achieve personalization at scale through product expertise.


Peter: Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age. So, Michelle, thank you so much for joining us on Unpacking the Digital Shelf. You know you first came to our attention because we saw a, a screed that you wrote on LinkedIn about personalization and how it ought to work and some of the frustrations that you had with it and, and sort of a, a call to arms for how we should think about actually creating a personalized experience. And, and I assume that FINDMINE rose out of that. So could you just start out by telling us what are you thinking about this space and how did you get in and, and you know, sort of what's your guiding star for this kind of experience?

Michelle: Yeah, so I have a product management background, then that was my career for 10 plus years before starting the company. And that's kind of all about taking friction out of the user experience. You know, getting them from point a to point B, point B where you are, you know, making your money with as few steps as possible with as few people falling out of the funnel as possible. So with that kind of career training, I think just as a consumer in my life, I'm very highly attuned to experiences that have too many steps for me or are just, like, a frustrating user journey. And so when I would be shopping, I would, I noticed, you know, for years before starting a company, it was like the retailers were selling me these products and one at a time, thinking I was using them in a vacuum. So I would buy a shirt. Well, I don't wear a shirt with no pants and no shoes. That's ridiculous. Being successful with the shirt means like wearing it outside and wear something outside and not get arrested. You have to put something that covers your butt and put on your feet. Like, especially in New York.

Michelle: Don't walk around barefoot in New York city. And so because of that I, I saw that again and again. I saw that when I was, you know, trying to redecorate my apartment and we were putting in like fixtures in the bathroom. Home Depot had the, the trims for the valves or for the bathroom fixtures, but you have to get the valves that fit it. And like they weren't showing me which Paulsen and I'm like, I'm not an interior designer. Like I don't know this stuff off the top of my head. Like, give me a little bit of help. So the real theme that kind of emerged was that all these brands that we buy from have some kind of like leg up on us as consumers with respect to the expertise that they have. Home Depot is a better DIY or than I am.

Michelle: Crate and barrel is a better interior decorator that I am. Adidas is a more like, you know athletically inclined and stylish kind of point of view than I have. So how do we as consumers get that help and that guidance? So we're not left with the, great, here's a product, go, you know, go away and good luck. And then we kind of fall on our face because there's all these other things we as consumers have to think about after the sale to be successful with those products. And basically when I looked into why retailers don't give me more of that expertise and why brands don't communicate more of that, you know value proposition, so I can be successful as a consumer. I realize that they're trying, it's not that they don't see this as an opportunity, but they're relying on kind of analog and antiquated methods of communication.

Michelle: So I might have to find a Home Depot associate in the store to get them to answer that question. I might have to rely on you know, a merchandiser at Adidas manually making an outfit for the track jacket that I'm looking at. And because it's all manual, it doesn't scale. And when in a world that's changed dramatically recently where you have more places to shop than ever before, there's more interaction points with the brand than ever before. There's more segmentation of consumers and they know more data about me than ever before. And there's probably a lot more products too. And more companies in general than ever before. That all kind of falls apart when you're trying to get that guidance embedded into every interaction with a product and every touch point with the brand for every customer you have across all the different channels you have now. So retailers really aren't capable of meeting that need at scale because automation solutions that exist don't actually scale out what the brand stands for and their unique expertise.

Peter: So for you, it's, it's being able to bring more of that thought leadership as we would call it, sort of in the tech world, but that information that you have that can help your consumers be successful across their journey and get delight and joy and all those good things, but bring that into the automated personalization at scale engine.

Michelle: That's right. Because you know, every brand has all this different information on me, right? They know all my demographics, they know what I bought in the past, they know when I'm likely to buy in the future. But unlike in, you know, finance where they say past results don't guarantee future returns. Right. My buying patterns and the way I am as a consumer is a great predictor of what I'm going to do next, but that's my same old rep that I'm always in. Right. You're just showing me the same things that I'm likely to buy at the same price points and all that kind of stuff. I don't ever get to be a better version of myself and there's a part of me that wants to be more stylish, more athletically inclined, more, you know, like have a better looking bathroom than the one I had before. That's the whole reason I'm doing this renovation project. Right. So getting the retailer or the brand who has more expertise than I do to just share that with me makes that personalization more effective than it would be if it was just a standalone. And in fact I'm a lot more effective because now they’ve differentiated, that brand has differentiated themselves against the competition who might have exactly the same packet of data on me as a consumer.

Rob: Yeah, there's, there's two really interesting counter-cultural insights that I, that I think are at the core of this that I want to run by you. One is that everyone along the e-commerce or omni-channel commerce world is looking to reduce friction and is make that transaction happen as quickly as possible. Amazon's got the one click buy button, everything ships in one to two days and so on and so forth. You're identifying an area of friction that people have basically avoided, which is, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for here, right? It's the, you know, like your example, the valve that is compatible with other pieces of hardware that you need to actually complete the task, right though maybe the paint on the wall that that actually will work with your countertop and, and all of those types of things that I would be terrible at on my own.

Rob: And the second thing is that the consumer doesn't actually know what they're looking for and needs guidance. Now, what's, what's interesting is there have been online ways that companies have tried to attack that kind of duality of problem in the, in like the trunk club sense, right? Where you sort of subscribe to an expert advice taht tries to help you be a better person. And there's, there's online diet services and meal planning services that'll do that. How, what, what's the point at which these services fall short? Is it the specific lack of ability to scale? It's still, you know, you're, you're introducing marginal costs on a transaction by transaction, consumer experience, consumer experience basis. Like why are those not enough?

Michelle: That's a great question. And I have enormous respect for like Stitch Fix, right? Like they solve this need to for the end consumer. But there's two I wouldn't even say challenges, but just like two areas where they fall short in solving the problem, kind of like holistically, they're not trying to solve the problem holistically. They're trying to solve the problem from a, like your personal concierge and this area of expertise standpoint. But that doesn't mean a consumer is like only going to buy from StitchFix forever. The rest of their life. Any clothing, any time they might walk past a window display and see a skirt and be like, Oh my God, that's amazing. I love that and want to be able to indulge in that, you know, shopping experience wherever they might be and then who's going to help them there. So the, the skirt might be on a mannequin and like she's wearing a crop top and I'm a, you know, 45 year old had two kids, not a crop top wearing kind of person.

Michelle: But I love the skirt. And so like if I walk into that store right now, I'd have to find a store associate. Like I love the skirt but I'm not going to wear it with crop top like you have on the mannequin. What, what should I pair this with? Or I have to know already in my head how I would style it or I might just keep on walking because I'm like, that's so cool, but I don't think I could pull it off. Right. Whereas if you have some more of these like technologies and tools that are kind of doing what stitch fix does, but embedded across every touch point, every place a consumer can interact with a product, et cetera at scale, then you can capitalize on those opportunities. And if you're a retailer who's not Stitch Fix or a brand who's not Stitch Fix are not selling through Stitch Fix, you can capture some market share from those consumers.

Michelle: You're not expecting them to 100% change all of their buying behavior to the stitch fix model. And one of the reasons I have enormous respect for them as a company is that they, they got scale by having to change consumer behavior. And that's really hard. So when you're talking about removing friction from customer experiences, it's hard to remove friction. If you're saying, Hey, consumer changed the entire way you buy from point a to point B, it's not a to B anymore with like less friction in it. It's Q to PI, it's a whole new concept and you just have to like get on board with it. And they were able to do that, which is phenomenal, but not everyone is good enough to achieve that. So it's going to be really unlikely that you're going to see these like radical changing consumer behavior models crop up in so many places. They're like unicorn for a reason. So everywhere else consumers are going to continue to do their normal behavior. You really have to meet them where they're at. You can't expect them to completely change who they are and how they buy.

Rob: Got it. That makes total sense. And actually while we're, while we're on comping here, the other type of technology approach to try and teach people like what they should buy next in and what's received a lot of technical investment is the general area of personalization. Where, where has personalization fallen short for brands in terms of reaching this vision and helping people make the best possible purchase right now?

Michelle: Yeah. So a lot of personalization is really like cohort-based analysis. So if you think about, you know, you go to Amazon and they know a whole bunch of information about your demographics, you just had a baby, you just have a second kid, you live in Boston, blah, blah, blah.

Peter: All true. That's amazing, Michelle.

Michelle: I’m out of things now. But so they have a say packet of information on you and then they can see what other people who had a similar demographic who were looking at similar products ended up being successful with. So if you go on Amazon and you're looking in a vacuum, it's going to be like customers also bought and it's going to show you, you know, the other things that customers bought, right? So it's probably other vacuums or like different vacuums. Customers ended up buying these things.

Michelle: There might be like vacuum attachments and stuff like that. But the problem is that they're just doing it based on other people who are like you. So they're assuming that those other people demographically, like you have similar goals and needs and you know, stuff like that. If those people also don't know what attachments they need to buy with their, they might make a mistake. So even if they bought it, Amazon is going to say, Rob, here's some stuff that you might also like because other people, like you bought it. Well sometimes people like you might have a job as a professional cleaner so they might buy four back for vacuums and like 16 different attachments that don't all fit with the vacuum model you're looking at. So where's the aspiration coming from? And the second challenge is that like, you know, if you're a fashion retailer or if you're a cosmetics company and you sell a whole bunch of like mascara's and blushes and things like that and you're doing personalization based on the individual consumer.

Michelle: So demographic based customers are successful with these things. Or I know some information about you and I think you might really like our you know, eyebrow pencil because you're a slightly older woman and you might be experiencing thinning hair, right? That's a common kind of personalization use case. So you're going to show them like eyebrow stuff, but you sell all these products, you sell 10,000 products or a thousand products. So like obviously if you're telling the customer here's other things you should buy, there's very little risk in getting it wrong, right? Because you stand behind all your products hopefully. Whereas there's a lot more risk and telling your customer for this eyebrow pencil, pair it with this gel, this, you know, blush this, this lipstick. Because if you make a pairing that's not good, your customer is going to have lost faith in you. Like you're, the risk is a lot higher and getting that rate than just here's some other things you might like and as long as you stand behind your products, you can't really go wrong.

Michelle: So the automation that's applied in the personalization space can do its thing. You don't have a quality concern. Whereas when you're introducing the expertise element, you have a huge quality concern and sometimes the risk is not worth it. If you get it wrong, don't do it at all. If there's a chance you're going to get it wrong, just don't do it. At all. You're better off that way than trying to automate something, do it at scale, and then the quality is really low and you turned your customer off because you've suggested something to them that's, that's about bonkers that they don't respect

Rob: Some of those personalization examples though. I mean I think you're saying that they're low risk. I'm not sure they're so low risk. I remember a few years ago I was remodeling my bathroom and I bought a toilet seat on I, I'm pretty sure it was Amazon. I bought a toilet seat and then afterwards everything was toilet seat recommendations or like a week or two. And so I, he was like, Hey Rob, you might be interested in like five other toilet tees. I don't have that many toilet in my house. And so I started just ignoring the section, like just they would, you know, my eyes would miss the whole section and I wouldn't see it because it, I sort of had internalized that it wasn't for me. So there is risk in terms of real estate effectiveness on the website if you're not actually giving guidance. That's useful. [inaudible] Even even in those cases. Right?

Michelle: Yeah, and actually a really good point is a lot of times when you buy a product, you get an email that says, you know, thanks for your purchase and there's recommendations that are based on my personal demographics. But if I just bought, you know, a pair of boots, it's going to be like six other pairs of boots. And the real risk there is like now I'm questioning my decision, did I buy the wrong boots? Should I return these? Should I get these other ones instead? I don't know. I'm not in the market for six pairs of boots. I just want one. But now you're beating me into a return, which is like a real monetary impact to the company that just spent all this money shipping me for free, free to me, not free to them. This product that then I can ship back to them, free to me, not for you to them. And then they've lost money on this transaction because the personalization element made me question my decision. It didn't empower me with my decision. Whereas if they show me for those boots, here's 10 different ways to wear them this fall with all the different kind of, you know, things that are on trend this fall, there's a lot more chance I'll be successful with those boots and I won't return them.

Peter: Angel say subscribed. Yeah. Yeah. So Michelle, when you think about [inaudible] and what I imagine is the, the philosophy that you brought to life through FINDMINE, when you speak to a brand manufacturer executive who will acknowledge your argument that yes, if I can bring our expertise to life for that particular consumer, yes. That is the Holy grail of conversion and of loyalty and of, of advocacy from our customer. No question about it. What do they need in place at their organization? What data, what, what processes do they need to have in place in order to be able to put that dream into, into motion?

Michelle: So I think there's a little bit of analysis paralysis maybe that happens with this, with respect to this. So people think that the hurdle is so much higher than it is. And when I talk to executives, I'm like, you already have enough. You already are experts in your products. If you're a beauty company, you know that you can't mix a retinol cream with a vitamin C serum because those two ingredients counteract each other. So you would never suggest to your customer to put into your nighttime regimen of vitamin C and retinol at the same time. You would have one for day one for night. I didn't know that until I bought both of those products and completely like wasted half my money cause I would own that. And like, you know, you learn this stuff like on beauty blogs and things like that, but the retailer and the brands, you know, they already know this.

Michelle: So you're already as a brand manufacturer sitting on all this information that your customer doesn't know yet. So you already have what you need. You already have people in your organization who are brand ambassadors, who know what is, you know a high quality suggestion for success to your customer. So if you already have those things, then you are ready to scale it out. You just need a solution, do it at a high quality, high scale way. And that's what we provide. You don't need first party data. You don't need, you know, hyper-personalized one-to-one communication with their customers. If you have that, great. But if you have that without the former, you're not really making use of the first party data and your one-to-one communication channels because you might only be able to, you know, you might only have three different pieces of creative that are going to tell the story for your customer in a way that on-brand that you feel good about. And if you only have three, even if you have 50,000 segments that you've made because you have all this first party data, now you might as well only have three segments. So I think you need the first part first. And then if you're lucky enough to have first party data and be able to segment down to one-to-one communication with that first piece in place, then you really have something going.

Rob: Yeah, I think that's a really, really key point here is that w one of the things I really like about this, this angle that you're taking is that brands know their products really, really well. Well, and they know the suite of products that's around their products and the use cases around their products really, really well. They're proud of them. They can, they can be expert about those things and that doesn't require data. And there's a, there's something that's that you said at the end there, which is really important, which is that even if you did have all the data, you can't do a creative that's totally personalized and high quality for every single tiny segment that you might want to do. Right. And I think of like my favorite example of all, you've got to personalize the content and the message and everything like that as the launch of the iPad, iPod rather the original commercials that they had, they didn't show somebody listening to a different type of music on PBS as they did on Fox as they did on CNN as they did whatever it was.

Rob: A 22 year old silhouette dancing to a funky pop song in every single commercial they put out like they weren't segmenting their marketing and that was true for their online marketing and everything like that. It was just one image that they were going after and they hit it perfect and they hit it hard and hit it consistently. And that's like, that's in some sense marketing done really, really well. The risk of really hyper-personalized marketing is you have a bunch of diluted messages that are just hacked up by an intern real quick because you need 75 different segmentation messages and they're all a little bit crappy and, and people tune out. Right. So I think that's a really interesting point that you had there and are worth dwelling on a second.

Michelle: Yeah, there's like two pieces to that that I love. One is that the quality will go down precipitously and then you're actually like risking your brand's strength if you're hacking it up and all these different ways and the quality gets fuzzier. The more broad you go with those different segments. The other thing that I think is great about that example is that it's Apple and Apple's famous for like creating stuff that people didn't know they needed.

Rob: Yeah,

Michelle: And so like you, that might've been a strategic choice that said look like we're not going to all of these different segments. We want everyone to see a little bit of aspiration in this like 22 year old rocking out to this like funky music and because that's what we're standing for. That's what the iPod stands for. Is this like new generation of like funky music consumption and like self-expression and people can take that and then they can personalize and contextualize it for themselves, but they put a stake in the ground. But I'm like super passionate about that because I think that's why so many companies are going out of business left, right and center all of a sudden because they don't stand for anything in a world where it's just the same kinds of products and the same kinds of messaging and they're trying to do some personalization.

Michelle: It's just showing me what I'm likely to buy if it's a perfect commodity market. The only thing I'm buying on is price. So I'm going to find the cheapest solution and that's a race to the bottom that Amazon and Walmart maybe are going to win. Nobody else gets to win. And then they have, you know, the brands that are really good at putting a stake in the ground saying this is who we are and this is what we stand for and this is aspirational life. You get to live if you buy our products, those brands tend to have to discount less. They have more longevity, they have better competitive differentiation from one another even in really, really crowded spaces. So I think that Apple example is amazing because you know Apple is obviously like a category killer and a lot of the times the product is really similar. The functionality is similar. They've done a great job with user experience and removing the friction. Really you're buying into this like aspirational lifestyle and that aspirational lifestyle is something that every brand, if they doubled down on something this year, it should be that and not personalization first. Can you make your personalization efforts better?

Peter: Yeah. Can you walk me, walk us through you know, maybe a particular case study that comes to mind where you've seen, cause when you, when you say yes, you already have all this information, you have expertise in house, Rob's right art, you know brands know their products. But what we've often found in sort of the PIM world that Salsify lives in you know, our sponsor company, they, they are putting they have all the data. Yeah. But it lives all over the place everywhere and people's brains and spreadsheets. Like what is the use case where somebody can decide, yes, I want to do a test of this. I want to figure out how this works and I want to nail it. What do you, what do you do to sort of get them to success? Is there a case study you could walk us through?

Michelle: Yeah. I mean we have a bunch. So basically what our technology does is like, it's a a content engine that is predicting what brand experts, like a marketer, a merchandiser, a brand manager sometimes like a stylist or a store associate. Even would do if they were to sit down and like answer the question, how do I use this for a particular product, a particular customer. So we're taking that all and abstracting it up to like a huge level of scale. So all that's happening in real time and an automated way. And then the brands can plug in our engine wherever they want. They can plug it into power, social media posts, they can plug it into the eCommerce site, they can plug it into the store for digital tech, touchscreen technologies where they can learn more about products that the digital touch point.

Michelle: So it's very use case dependent. But I would say normally our biggest success has come from when a brand or retailer is already trying to do something to guide their customers and they're bottlenecked by the creation of content or the quality of, of the communication. So a case study would be one of our customers sells like high end jewelry you know, very expensive like tennis bracelets, like all diamonds, stuff like that, very blinging. And they wanted to guide their customers with what else would pair with it. And knowing that like most people aren't dripping in jewels all the time, right? Like probably not going to actually wear the tennis bracelet with the earrings, with the necklace, with the bangles and all the stuff all at the same time. But you might wonder, okay, what goes with these earrings? And without us, they wouldn't have been able to offer that expertise at scale.

Michelle: They might have been able to put it in like a couple of landing pages or things where it's like you know how to wear a specific new type of hearing that's just come out or 10 ways to make pearls feel less like, you know, your mom's pearls and more like 21st century I'm styling. So those are like little pockets where the retailer in this case is a multi brand retailer, wasn't an individual brand, but they were already doing stuff like that. They already had content they were trying to guide the consumers with, but they're happening in these little silos. And so that's a great place for us to come in. And say, okay, let's get our hands on all of those places that you're kind of guiding your customers and little low scale ways that's going to train our engine. We're going to understand what you stand for.

Michelle: We're gonna apply it to all your products and now every time a customer visits a jewelry page on your site, we can show them the complete, you know, rest of the, of the look in on theme, on brand, all products in stock, all those kinds of things that you want to make sure you quality assure for. And what they saw was like a remarkable lift in revenue. I think it was seven to 12% higher revenue when customers got that guidance about how to pair the jewelry versus when they didn't. And jewelry being such a high margin business like that is a game changer. And that was such a like small, you know, experiment. It was a very low stakes thing to try and they got a massive bang for their buck. So the ROI on what we do always is incredibly high because it's sort of taking advantage of something you're doing in a low scale and like blowing it out to a hundred in a way that moves the needle incredibly fast. From the revenue lift standpoint but doesn't require the associated cost that drags it down because you have to have a person overseeing it and like validating that it's all looking good. The engine is, is good enough from a content stand, a content quality standpoint to do this on its own.

Rob: I had to Google what a tennis bracelet was and there there are a lot fancier than I would've guessed. It actually seems to have nothing to do with tennis and play more to do with a significant number of diamonds. But let me, let me, let me run by a thought. I as you've been talking and I've been thinking about a lot of the different types of recommendation approaches that E retailers and brands that are marketing online have taken. One interesting way to think about it is most of them, or the vast majority are backwards looking at from a time perspective. They're saying like, you know, in your analogy on financial markets is about right. They're trying to use past behaviors and various ways of people like you or purchases you've made or things like that in order to predict something that is the very next thing statistically speaking, that you're likely to buy.

Rob: But it's all backwards looking. And what this approach does is the opposite of that. And in a way, it's actually forward looking. So rather than saying, based on past behavior, what you might buy, you're instead saying, actually, sir Madam, now that I look at you, let me show you something that is really going to blow your mind, right? And one of the things that we talk about at it's also about here is the idea of predictive commerce. You know, like Molly Schoenthal who was ran global digital Mars has this vision that someday she'll walk into a hotel room and the exact coffee she likes will be in the hotel. And the, the color of the wall will have changed to be her favorite color of the wall. And the sheets will be the same type of sheets that she normally likes and the pillows are, are, you know what I mean?

Rob: And so on and so forth. Like the room is set up specifically for her. And actually a better version of that is what your PR, what you're talking about is that, you know, youth might think that down pillows are the best, but let me show you something that's even better if you're in tobacco pillow, right? And it's, it's a helping somebody be them be their best self. It's showing somebody what they didn't even know that they might've thought and it's bringing the impulse and the confidence on impulse back and th the, the discovery back into the joy of the shopping experience. Like all in a way. So it's more forward looking inside. What do you think about that, the past past rear view mirror facing recommendations versus future-facing recommendations?

Michelle: I think you hit the nail on the head. I think that you need both though, right? Like, we're not the personalization, I don't want to be the anti personalization CEO, right? Like I'm not trying to kill that as a thing that's, that's a good thing. It's better than this, like one to many spray and pray approach. If you have a bit of data about me, like yeah, show me some of the stuff that I tend to buy because I probably will continue to buy that stuff. But that doesn't mean I should only continue to buy that stuff to the exclusion of things that could make me a better version of myself or wow. And delight me. And I think your point about the delight of shopping is a really good one because I as a consumer have felt so, I don't know, just like I used to really, really love shopping and now I feel like, especially online it's this kind of like time-suck that it makes me feel.

Michelle: Yeah. And it makes me feel a little like I have like a guilt hangover or like some, you know, I feel a little dirty, right? When I've spent so many hours down this rabbit hole of online shopping, kind of the same way. When you like scroll endlessly, mindlessly through Instagram or Facebook, you sort of feel like gross about yourself. Like how did I spend all this time on it and what do I have to show for it? It didn't really make me happy to do this activity for two hours and all of a sudden two hours have gone by. It doesn't like give you the same joy. And I think that a lot of that has to do with, it's just literally more of the same. And so if you can be a brand that breaks out of that and gets me in like, Oh my goodness, that's cool kind of moment. It's a real opportunity because everybody has that same kind of scrolling experience endlessly and feeling like you're not getting wowed and delighted.

Peter: So Randall Monroe, who's a comic artist and in Cambridge, Massachusetts who writes XKCD has one of my favorite comics that he wrote of all time has is a graph on how much time he took figuring out which college to go to compared to the importance of the decision. Like really high important decision, but like not much time spent thinking about which college and then how much time he spent picking out his next backpack versus the decision. And he spent like 500 times more time looking at his next backpack, which is a decision that ultimately doesn't matter that much. Anyway, this happened to me literally yesterday. I w I went to to a, a, I won't call anybody out here, but I went to a, a very large sneaker brand store and I was shopping for, for workout sneakers and I went in and no one would help me.

Peter: There was the, it was so hard to get anyone's attention. There's no information on the shelf as to what, why I should buy it, what, what the difference was between them. I couldn't self-help and there was no one there to help me. I mean there were people around but just like no attention. And so I left the store, went over to us running shop that's been there for decades. It's right at the, actually the, the finish line of the Boston marathon. Marathon sports walked in and immediately there's a person there going, Hey, what are you looking for? And then dug into exactly what I needed and what was my use case and how do I mix that with wanting to run a little bit but not too much. Cause then I'll get the pain. And it was tremendous. It was a tremendous experience. And I think that's when, when more and more as you, as you talk, I think the answer's like, which product do I want and what should I do with this product? And that's what it feels like. The question is for personalization. Each one of these like to make it delightful is not just buying the thing, it's, it's informing the journey with that thing, whether that's buying something else or not. It's making it a delightful, joyful experience.

Michelle: Yeah. I think personalization made this kind of critical mistake as a, as a category where it stopped at, what should I buy and it's like hands up, you know, you're on your own now. And they didn't make it by choice. It wasn't you know, a conscious decision to abandon the consumer after the post-sale. Like we got our money, haha. See you later. Right. It wasn't that, it's just the data sets that they have are only as useful as they can be and that's predicting based on past purchase intent or a purchase behavior and then assuming that purchase intent is going to be similar to past purchase behavior and putting cohorts of people together and making some assumptions about, you know, what they could be doing activities wise based on their demographics, but where the ball needs to be picked up and carried over the finish line from that. Is that the second part of what you said, which is how can I be successful with this? What do I do with it now? Right. What else do I need to know to be, I don't know, a better runner now that I have these shoes. So there are two sides of the same coin or it's a balance and they need to be in balance. Otherwise the consumer gets squeezed in one way, shape, or form.

Peter: Yeah. I, you know, I, I wish personalization had gone instead of just, you know, what you should buy. I wish they had gone through what you should not buy. It's like I want that feature that says Rob, no, don't do that. If only if only, but I did love, I started out using my sneakers this morning and I loved them, so I was happy. So to close out Michelle, if it, you know, if you were, eh, you know, we have brand manufacturer executives sitting in their car listening to this or on a run or trying to fall asleep. If, if you were able to sit with one of those executives and say, all right, this, this journey of differentiating my experience through my expertise can be scaled. What, what is your first, what is your, what advice would you leave them with to start down that path?

Michelle: Start with what you got. You know, you, you have the expertise in house. And if you're smaller brand, you know, you could do it manually. You could literally just have your brand managers or your marketers or whoever you have on hand. If you have a small enough product, catalog and assortment, you could just have them create content, like sit down and think through, okay, product one, how could, how was my shopper going to be successful at this? What do we need to show him or her to make sure that they're gonna, you know, take this product and be like so happy that they're going to come back and buy it again. And again, most brands have more scale than that. They have more product lines and combinations and skews and stuff like that. So when you get into that place that's what I mean. You should call us because that's what we do.

Michelle: But the other thing is, you know, you can, you can scale this out piecemeal. You don't have to like sprint before you learn to crawl. So you can do a small experiment and see like when we give our customers this guidance and this one vertical or this one category or this one channel or segment, here's what they experience changes. This is what they're doing. They're spending more money. They gave us really positive feedback and consumer user surveys or whatever. So our customers, because we're this like content engine that's available via an API, some of them will buy the, you know the suite and like blow it out everywhere. Like multi-market, multi-category and multichannel. They want to use it wherever they can because they've seen the value and there's a lot of money to be had. And some of them are like, what if I made my customer sort of like a, like a Tinder style experience where they, I can see what they like and they don't like, and then I can make some, you know, give some, give them some guidance to be successful in their lives with what they're buying.

Michelle: And this like kind of micro app that lives inside this other thing. And it's going to be a very small group of people that use it initially. And then they learn from that and then they say, okay, now where we can take this is the next level. It's like the, the the lock strategy cause you just learn to crawl. So then you have a lock and then you have a run and then you have a sprint. And it just depends on where you are in your evolution as a brand. And also it depends on how keenly you feel the pain cause you with competitors, you're pretty much like commoditized with your competitor. You need this at scale as soon as possible. I believe it's an existential threat to your business to not have that stake in the ground and be making sure your consumer knows exactly what your brand stands for and is supported at every moment and every touch point across your product catalog. And some companies can afford to have more, get there more slowly, they have more time. So I would just say start somewhere. And recognize this is different than personalization and recognize this is a necessary counterpoint that's going to keep you in business and not only that's going to help you thrive.

Peter: Yeah. I love that. What it's doing is bringing to life the, the DNA of passion that we know brands have for what they're bringing market and how they can change their consumers lives. So I love the thinking and I love that it's it, it's possible to bring it to life at scale is really exciting. And Michelle, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. We really

Michelle: Appreciate it. Absolutely. Thank you for having me.