I am no longer actively blogging on this website.
Once upon a time you would get what you were given. I remember in the 1980’s, when I was growing up, there was far less choice. There was no such thing as the internet or mobile phones and we only had 4 TV channels. There were fewer brands around, too.
Life was simpler back then and while there was an upside to this, variety was something of a rarity. I remember my friends and I tended to watch the same TV programs, wear the same clothes and play the same games. The problem with this is that people are all different and it left less scope for ‘individuals’ to actually be ‘individual’.
What got me thinking about this blog post was the recent video about Phonebloks. I find this inspiring – if you haven’t seen this already it’s well worth a few minutes of your time:
As technology advances the rate of personalisation will only increase. In the future it will become the norm for every household to have a 3D printer so you can build yourself whatever you like. But with an ever-increasing ability to customise things, consumers will expect more from suppliers and brand loyalty will be more precious than ever. It will take more than offering off-the-shelf products to appease people, smart companies must allow people to personalise their products.
This is already commonplace in certain industries. Some cases in point include:
When you order a laptop or a PC online you can spec it to your exact requirements, mobile phones and tables allow for massive personalisation through the use of Apps & Widgets and Search Engines personalise results.
Most food establishments would claim to make ‘whatever the customer wants’ but some companies are putting choice (or rather, the option for personalisation) at the very centre of their offering. A good example is Subway – there are 161 million different Subway sandwiches to choose from.
I recently bought a pair of trainers from NikeID, which allowed me to select the colour of every individual material used in them. I even got to put my name on them (see below). Vans, Addidas, Reebok and Converse all offer a similar service.
My Nike ID’s have my name on them
So what does all of this mean? Well, so far as I see it there are two sides to personalisation – one at an individual level and another at a business level.
On an individual level, you have a massive amount of choice. It’s worth spending some time considering how to change your environment to suit you better. Take your mobile phone. Don’t stick with a completely stock set up for everything, learn what your phone can do, then personalise it to meet your individual needs. I use Android OS. Naturally I have a load of Apps and Widgets but I also use a program called Nova Launcher to replace my home screen. This allows me to have as many or as few home screens, icons and widgets as I want.
On a business level, which was more the angle I wanted to come from when I started writing this post, every company should consider what they do and see if they can allow customers some kind of customisation of their products or services.
At ReAgent our traditional product offering used to be a simple list of ‘off-the-shelf’ products, then we started to get more enquiries for bespoke items, so we started offering off the shelf products with the option to customise them. We will soon be turning our product offering on it’s head and start simply by asking people “What would you like us to do for you?”. Going forwards will still have a list of stock products (most of which can be purchased via our e-commerce store) but our main focus will be offering customers whatever they want, be it a specific formulation, materials, grade, pack size, packaging or service.
If you sell products, find a way to customise them. If you sell services, tell the customer your range of services then let them decide what they want. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling cars or sandwiches, the payback on this will be huge. Giving customers exactly what they want encourages customer loyalty and some of the most innovative ideas will come from the people who use a product most. Consider how personalisation can be integrated into whatever it is that you are offering. After all, we are all different.