Technological advances, originating in the time of the industrial revolution and accelerating today, have alienated workers from consumers, and vice versa. We argue that this alienation and accompanying feelings of being objectified as a mere interchangeable source of profit are aversive to workers and consumers. These feelings reduce the meaningfulness and satisfaction workers find in their work and make products less attractive and consumption less meaningful to consumers. We propose simple and inexpensive interventions that can be used to make business more personal, with powerful effects on workers’ job satisfaction, product quality, and product attractiveness to consumers. Paradoxically, these interventions often rely on the same technological advances that otherwise facilitate the alienation. We specifically highlight how disclosing personal information (e.g., name, personal background) about workers and consumers can impact the motivation and performance of workers. We also highlight how disclosing personal information about workers and consumers can impact consumers’ satisfaction, preferences, and willingness-to-pay. We argue that providing personal information about workers to consumers and vice versa will often yield a win-win-win effect. As more satisfied customers buy more at higher prices, more satisfied workers do a better job, and personal information can be disclosed cheaply using information technology, companies benefit from increased sales at higher prices and at very little extra cost.

Alienation, Estrangement, Objectification, Personal information, Personizing
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2019.12.006, hdl.handle.net/1765/123786
Journal of Retailing
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

van Osselaer, S.M.J, Fuchs, C. (Christoph), Schreier, M, & Puntoni, S. (2020). The Power of Personal. Journal of Retailing. doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2019.12.006