“Mass consumption and mass production are becoming things of the past. These days, brands that matter and resonate with people are the ones that feel like they’re authentically made and designed just for you. It’s the age of personalization.” (Emotive Brand)
Imagine a typical day in the life of your customer. We’ll call him Max. Rather than wake up to the radio, Max’s alarm is a playlist of favorite tunes from the music collection stored on his smart phone. Before he goes into work, Max stops at his neighborhood coffee shop, where the barista knows his order by heart— a medium café au lait with almond milk. At lunch, Max likes to use an app on his phone for a pizza chain that allows him to customize his pie – from the density of the crust to the types of cheese and additional toppings — that is then made to order for him to pick up. Back at home at the end of the night Max reclines on his new bed that is customized to his body type and preferred sleep position. Instead of flipping aimlessly through the channels for something to watch, Max selects one of his favorite TV shows set to record on his DVR.
Today’s customer wants more than a few choices in color or style. Your customer wants to be able to customize their purchase and make it their own. And brands are responding. Big brands like BMW’s MINI Cooper, who offers a build feature on their website where users can “design a MINI to match your distinct tastes.” And boutique brands like Shoes of Prey, who allows customers buying women’s shoes to choose the style, strap, toe type, heel height, color and decoration of their shoes. Increasingly more brands are cashing in on customization.
Although product personalization may seem like a new trend, it’s actually more of a nod to the past, to the days when customers wanting a new shirt would choose the material and sew it at home or pay a tailor to custom fit the garment for them. It wasn’t until mass production of goods that people started buying whatever was available on the racks in stores. Today, with so many new eCommerce brands competing for market share, offering both customizable and ready-made options is fast becoming the best way to please an array of consumer preferences.
How product personalization can benefit your brand
“A Bain survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers found that while less than 10% have tried customization options, 25% to 30% are interested in doing so. Beyond the pure size of the opportunity, [the] survey showed that those customers who had customized a product online engaged more with the company. They visited its website more frequently, stayed on the page longer and were more loyal to the brand.” [Forbes]
As a DTC seller, you should already be employing a personalized shopping experience for your customers. The valuable customer data you’re collecting allows you to better understand your customers’ habits, wants, likes, and even dislikes. You can then turn that information into personalized deals, like clip-less coupons on certain products or online-only discounted bundles.
Take that personalization strategy a step further, and you can determine which aspects of your product your customer might want to customize. If you sell a catalog of different products, your data can help you determine which items might be the best candidates for personalization.
Product personalization also offers the advantage of keeping your channel partners happy. One way eCommerce sites avoid positioning themselves as a direct competitor with their distributors is by offering product personalization. Focusing on the segment of your consumers who want a customizable product allows you to differentiate your eCommerce offering with the standard products your channel partners are helping you to push. So for example, if you sell eyeglasses, you might offer customized pairs on your website, while providing your distributors with incentives to sell your on-trend, ready-to-wear glasses for those customers who prefer to buy off the rack.
Are you ready to try product personalization?
Offering customizable products is not right for every brand. Maybe you already differentiate yourself by providing a curated collection of products for the customer who hates being faced with too many decisions. Those customers still exist. You may sell products that don’t lend themselves as easily to personalization as, say, a mattress, footwear or eyeglass brand.
If you’re not sure, try testing one product and start by offering a limited array of customization options. See how many customers bite. If your data isn’t sufficient enough to gauge which of your products your customers might want to personalize, come right out and ask them through a short survey. To increase your survey response rate, offer customers a discount for sharing their opinions. Then assess your survey results and strategize from there. Just asking customers if they want a more personalized experience is engaging them—showing that as a brand you’re not just pushing products onto your customer, but seeking to provide them with what they really want. You’re also recognizing that one-size-does-not-fit-all. In a global market that’s increasingly driven by a diversity of tastes, product personalization is the one thing that is no longer niche.
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