Personalisation: does this mean more efficient marketing and the end of junk mail?

Martin Hayward

In 1973, British households were spellbound by a TV ad from Cadbury's. It featured a family of aliens, the Smash Martians, who laughed at the thought of Earth people preparing their own mashed potatoes rather than using convenience food Smash.

In a future world flooded with data, and customer-centric companies which shape strategy around consumer insights, there may be similar amusement at the way we do marketing now.

Imagine sending the same piece of mail to millions of customers when only 1 per cent will open it. Fancy broadcasting an identical ad to millions of TV viewers when most won't be interested in buying your product and the rest might not be watching.

Cast your mind back to a time when your local supermarket knew nothing about your shopping habits and treated you the same as everyone else.