ANA 2019 Marketing Word of the Year: Personalization | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

ANA 2019 Marketing Word of the Year: Personalization


Since 2014, the ANA has surveyed our members to identify the marketing word of the year. The ANA staff identifies a list of finalists and then asks members to cast their vote to determine the winner. This year, voting was done online during the week of November 18. In total, 341 members participated. "Personalization" was selected by ANA members as the ANA 2019 Marketing Word of the Year.

Representative verbatim comments from those who voted for personalization are:

  • Personalization is what customers expect. Every current and prospective customer expects that your brand knows them and can deliver what they want.
  • Consumers are busy. Too busy to invest time with anything that's not relevant to them personally. It's all about relevancy, aka personalization. "Make it all about me."
  • We now have the tools to pay off this benefit. Technology is enabling marketers to personalize consumer experiences and communication.
  • In today's world of "me," personalization is how people want to consume information. Experiences need to be relevant and unique to the end user at nearly every interaction.
  • We're all striving to show value to customers in a way that's relevant to them. Technology is changing the way marketers are able to do so, and we're all united by our efforts to showcase personalization.
  • As marketers we can no longer think about customers as just a single large group. If we assume all customers are the same, then we are not meeting their needs.
  • Personalization is the holy grail of brand marketing. It provides the ability to speak directly to the consumer or shopper with the right message, at the right time, in the right medium.

According to ANA's Marketing Knowledge Center (MKC) "Ask the Expert" service, member questions on personalization started to pick up in 2018 and accelerated in 2019. The MKC "Ask the Expert" team issued a report on personalization in mid-2019 (available to ANA members only) that included these highlights:

  • Over half of consumers expect companies to know their buying habits and anticipate their needs.
  • Half of marketers plan to increase investments in personalization technology.
  • One resource identified personalization as the most important marketing trend of this century.

Despite the promise of personalization, marketers should use caution with their personalization strategies and tactics. Per the MKC "Ask the Expert" report, there is data suggesting consumers can be underwhelmed by marketing efforts to personalize interactions, and there is also a perspective that more personalization does not necessarily provide a better experience. There is some consumer skepticism, lack of understanding, and even mistrust over the use of data for marketing purposes.

Nonetheless, personalization presents significant opportunities for marketers to deliver more relevant communications and experiences for consumers and customers.

Note that personalization aligns with the work of the ANA CMO Masters Circle. "Brand, creativity, and experience" is one of the 12 leadership agenda items of the Masters Circle and increasingly marketers are personalizing creative work and customer experiences.

Other top choices in the ANA 2019 Marketing Word of the Year voting were equality and inclusion, data, and in-house.

Previous ANA Marketing Words of the Year were brand purpose (2018), artificial intelligence (2017), transparency (2016), content marketing (2015), and programmatic (2014).


"ANA 2019 Marketing Word of the Year: Personalization." ANA, 2019.