We’ve all experienced those busy events. Loud parties, bustling restaurants, crowded gigs.

Have you ever noticed that despite the music, the conversations, and the general background noise, that we still have the ability to focus on one singular conversation? Whilst being able to ignore everything else?

That’s called the Cocktail Party Effect.

The term was originally coined by Colin Cherry, a cognitive scientist at Imperial College London in the 1950’s. And in more scientific terms, refers to our ability to focus our attention on a single stimulus whilst filtering out a range of other stimuli, such as noise.

And it turns out, it’s a highly useful tactic for marketers.

How does the Cocktail Party Effect relate to marketing?

Consumers are exposed to between 6,000 – 10,000 ads. Every single day.

That’s a lot of background noise.

Could you recount even a fraction of those ads? Neither can we. That’s because we filter most of them out. Meaning that most ads simply become white noise.

This is a significant challenge for marketers. As industries become more competitive and channels become more saturated, brands need to do all they can to stand out from the crowd.

The power of true personalisation

For marketers, personalisation can emulate that singular, engaging conversation that we focus on at the noisy cocktail party.

However, it’s 2021, and personalisation has come a long way since the simple first name tactic. To stand out in the marketing space, brands need to focus on true personalisation.

True personalisation means having a deep understanding of the customer journey. Being able to predict and act upon customer needs. The products they buy and the pages they browse. And sending the right message at the exact right time.

4 key types of data

True personalisation can only be achieved through high-quality data and the use of an AI marketing platform.

Fortunately, data can be accessed in a multitude of ways:

Demographic data

This refers to basic data on an individual, such as their name, age, gender, ethnicity, and profession. It can be used to gain a high-level understanding of an audience. As well as for basic personalisation.

Behavioural behaviour

This data is gathered from how an individual engages with a brand. This could include the pages and products they browse, the emails they open, and the social media channels they follow.

Purchase data

Purchase data refers to the products and services that an individual has bought, or regularly buys.

Location-based data

Location-based data refers to where in the world a recipient is based. Whilst this could fall under demographic data, there are some sophisticated personalisation techniques that can be executed using this information.

5 ways to achieve The Cocktail Party Effect with personalisation

Once this data has been gathered, brands can utilise it in their marketing to create truly personalised experiences and journeys for their consumers. Here are some examples:

Triggered emails

Triggered emails generally refer to communications that are sent as immediately as possible after a consumer makes an action.

Abandoned basket reminders

Abandoned basket reminders allow brands to recover lost revenue when a consumer adds a product to their basket, but never gets to the final stage of checking out.

Post-purchase updates

Post-purchase updates reassure consumers in the final stages of their buying journey. They can include purchase confirmation, delivery notifications, and even ratings requests.

Replenishment campaigns

A key element of true personalisation is predicting consumers’ behaviour. If a consumer makes a regular purchase, such as medication or cosmetics, then brands can remind them when it’s time to repurchase.

Product recommendations
Product recommendation emails utilise behavioural and purchase data to determine the products most relevant to the consumer.


This data can be utilised to recommend similar or complementary products during or post-purchase. For instance, if a consumer purchases a pair of boots, a brand can cross-sell boot polish.


Similarly, using behavioural data brands can identify products most browsed and upsell a better product in its place. This tactic can also be utilised at the point of purchase to encourage a customer to upgrade.

Alternative products

If a consumer has been shopping for specific items, but is yet to add anything to their basket or purchase, brands can recommend alternative products which may be more suitable.

Dynamic content

Dynamic content is the marketer’s secret weapon. When utilised in emails and on websites, it automatically populates content with information based on the specific consumer’s demographic, behavioural, or purchase data.

Dynamic images and copy

Brands can utilise tailored banners, imagery, and copy to promote products that a specific recipient would be most interested in. For instance, if a specific consumer regularly buys dresses, a banner image for a promotional email could feature the latest dresses available.

Featured products

If brands feature the same products to everyone, they can leave consumers frustrated and uninspired. Instead, brands can combine behavioural and purchase data with dynamic content blocks to promote products that are highly relevant to every single recipient.

Live pricing, availability, and reviews

Dynamic content blocks can be combined with product data to update consumers with real-time, relevant information about the products they are most interested in. This could include changes to pricing, availability, or reviews.

Behavioural targeting

By gathering ongoing behavioural data, brands can send out personalised communications to encourage the consumer along the buying journey.

Browse abandonment

Browse abandonment emails are similar to basket abandonment, but based on the pages and items that a consumer has been viewing. For instance, if they have visited a specific product multiple times, a brand can contact them to give them a nudge to add it to their basket.

Back in stock

Similarly, if a consumer has been browsing a specific product that is out of stock, brands can send notifications once it is available again. Brands can even include the option for consumers to select ‘in stock reminders’ to ensure they’re front of the queue.

Price drop emails

If a consumer has browsed an item multiple times, or even added it to their basket but is yet to check out, brands can encourage them to purchase by notifying them when the price has dropped.


Geotargeting utilises the recipient’s physical location to personalise email and website communications with the most relevant messaging, imagery, and products possible.

Store recommendations

Geotargeting can initially be used to promote the closest store to a recipient. This could be for a store opening or re-opening, or simply to encourage in-store traffic.

Location-based promotions

Alternatively brands can utilise geotargeting to promote products, sales, and events that are closest to the recipient. This is not only highly useful information for the recipient. But it avoids making others feel left out if the promotion is too far away.

Do you want to replicate the Cocktail Party Effect in your marketing?

At Pure360, we are experts in personalisation. And have helped brands throughout different industries to create and send highly successful personalisation campaigns over multiple channels.

Get in touch with our experts to find out more.