It’s no secret that over the past 5 years or so, consumers have been demanding more from their brands. More choice, more availability, and easier on-the-go options – consumers wants brands to fit their busy 21st century lifestyles and not the other way around. Where we first had mass production, we are now seeing the rise of mass customisation.
In many ways, mass customisation has been slowly creeping up on us since the rise of the web. We are fully accustomed now to inputting our personal details, like names, addresses, and phone numbers, in exchange for a personalised service on the web.
Some companies that have embraced the rise of customisation include Nike, who offer an online option to create fully customised trainers, and Trek, who offer customers the opportunity to build the perfect bike from scratch. Ray-Ban also has a bespoke online design service so your sunglasses can not only be designer but completely unique as well.
There’s also been a recent boom in online subscription boxes – Lootcrate, Birchbox, and Graze being some of the most popular. What these three have in common is that they offer a highly personalised service delivered directly to your door; just select your preferences online and hit ‘pay’.
It’s interesting that many of the brands who are proving most successful at the customisation game are in fact clothing retailers and manufacturers, who are in a way returning to the ‘old ways’ of tailoring, where everything had to be made to fit. From shoes to jackets to glasses, fashion dominates when it comes to customisation, largely because everyone’s tastes and shapes are different, so it’s a veritable breeding ground for custom options.
Customisation and personalisation aren't just a means of keeping up with consumers. Customisation allows brands to develop a more personal relationship with their customers, build their brand loyalty, and overall increase their engagement. When a customer knows they can get exactly what they most desire from you, it builds a huge sense of loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Companies that use or offer customisation options often stand out from their competitors in the simple fact they can offer exactly what the customer wants – not a close approximation, not a rough estimate, but the precise, exact product.
Customers love to feel valued by a brand; after all, they’re parting with their hard-earned cash, and a little extra care and attention on behalf of the brand helps make that transaction a more enjoyable experience. A brand that offers a perfect product, customised to their specification, with a highly personal and friendly service is on to a sure-fire winner.
What are the difficulties?
The main obstacle when it comes to offering personalised and customised products is simple economics. The money needed to invest in the complex software and manufacturing technologies of customisation (or even wages for more specialised handmade objects) can be extremely high, and if it doesn’t pay off, it’s not going to be good. At a manufacturer level, integrating the new software technology of customised options into the established processes can be difficult. It requires extremely good communication between the software, the manufacturer and the machines themselves.
It’s an interesting point in time for both brands and consumers as we look at how technology continues to impact trends in our lives. Consumers are still demanding increasingly personalised and customised services for them though, so it seems likely this is a trend that will continue for now. Whether the boom for customisation lasts, or it proves to be overly expensive for both consumers and brands, only time will tell.