Imagine opening up your email and fining an email addressed to you.
“Dear <insert your name>,
We have a cool deal for you…”
What does such an email make you feel? While you hold on to that thought, imagine you are now reading up another email that goes like –
We have a cool deal for you…”
Now, what does this email make you feel? Not special at all, right?
With a difference in just one word, a customer can either proceed to make a sale or send that email in the trash folder. With just a word, businesses can lose out on revenue. That is the power of customization in the modern world of Retail Therapy.
Customers are out there to feel a sense of personalized achievement when buying something for themselves or even for others.
In recent times, the demand for customized items has reached sky-high. While it initially began from putting pictures and names on mugs and keychains or even phone covers, it was somewhat limited to offline brick and mortar stores.
Today, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find that not just some businesses are incorporating customization as an upsell to their existing merchandise but entire business models being built around the concept of customized products or services.
With the internet indicating trends via memes and influencers, it does make sense for businesses to add product customization tricks onto their platforms to enhance the consumer buying experience.
First things, first, what exactly is Product Customization?
Product Customization is a technique that delivers products and services to the customers modified according to their needs. Customers can either ask a brand to make specific edits to the product or carry out multiple modifications on the product themselves – precisely the way they want.
Product customization has off late made its own mark in the online e-commerce market and has caught the attention of the customers looking for means to express their identity better. Online stores employ a majority of product customization and personalization.
However, there is confusion that exists between some commonly used terms concerning both products and services – mass personalization, mass customization, and bespoke products. How about we debunk their actual meaning?
This is when products that are commonly produced at scale are given a personalized touch by using that consumer’s data and predicting insights from it. It is a consumer- passive process. It does not involve any efforts from the consumer’s end to input any kind of information.
An example of this type would be an online portal predicting products based on your past shopping history or a penned down note addressed to you by the business owner while delivering the order.
Here, while the products are manufactured at scale, the customer is offered limited options to modify the product and execute their preferences. The customer is actively involved in making the product or service feel like their own.
Examples of this would include laptop manufacturers offering customizing options that fulfill the specific needs of the customer. Another option would be denim clothes manufacturers offering customizing options by sewing and pinning trendy souvenirs to bring about a unique sense of identity to the piece of cloth.
Also known as Made-To-Order, here the products are made per the customer’s exact requirements from level 0. This heavily relies on the customer’s participation to give life to an idea and adopts a collaborative approach from both the customer and the brand’s end.
Examples of these would commonly include tailor-switched apparel or on-demand bouquet services from Interflora that involves making a bouquet by choosing everything – right from picking the flower type from scratch to choosing the ribbon to hold the flower arrangement together.
Deloitte’s recent consumer review reported that 1 in 5 consumers are willing to pay 20% more for a personalized or exclusive product. It is a common perception that only the younger crowd wants something personalized and custom-made.
Studies say that over 55 years old are actually more likely to purchase a personalized holiday than those in the 16-24 age group. Personalization sure offers something unique to everyone, irrespective of their age.
Not only that, 46% of consumers say they are happy to wait longer to get their customized product or service. Intending to excel the expectations set by the customers, here are significant reasons why product and service customization helps brands increase their market share as well as mind share.
1. Emotionalizing the product.
It is an accepted fact that business is powered by customers—what better task than implementing the power of personalization and attaching emotions to a product. Strongly accepted by customers, customizing a product increases its sentimental value while reducing the competition the product would typically face in the market.
While product customization adds a personal touch to the product, this effectively leads to associating a strong sense of ownership with the product making it one of a kind.
Rightly so, when customers design it the way they want, the end-product does not just remain a product. This remains the case even if the product is for the customer themselves or if the customer is buying the customized product for someone else they care about. Since customers like the personalization concept, it gives brands an excellent opportunity to excel in making their own brand presence felt in the market.
2. Building Customer Loyalty.
One of the most essential benefits of product customization is that it increases customer loyalty exponentially. What better way to gain more loyal customers than to offer them an opportunity to express their one of a kind design sense? By extending them access to design their own product per their tastes, the brands happens to gain customers for their entire lifetime. In all this, the brand also fulfills the fundamental reasons for running a product-driven business – revenues and customer satisfaction.
The more options a customer is provided to make their product or service while fulfilling their functional needs, the more they are likely to feel attracted to the brand. In fact, the more they will prefer that brand over the competitors in case of future purchases. Product customization firmly establishes a connection between the brand and the customers. It effectively improves customer retention to a significant level.
3. Increasing ‘real’ sales.
It is not hidden that brands want to mint money off sales, but customizing a product for a customer makes the brand customer centric and not product-centric, all the while making sure that the sales aren’t going anywhere. Customers do not hesitate to pay extra for a personalized item because they do not see it just as a product but something of their own.
Another way product customization helps is by encouraging word of mouth marketing because if one customer feels delighted with the services of the brand, they will not hesitate to recommend the brand to their known ones. This, in turn, builds more opportunities for sales and lowers customer acquisition costs.
4. Improving customer insights.
Adding to the benefits of product customization is that brands can access the likes, dislikes, and preferences of a customer, which would not have been possible had it been for standard purchase. Just like mass personalization works, a brand can take advantage of their customers’ willingness to access their information and then use it to recommend better products in the future.
According to some stats, 53% of the online shoppers feel that brands that offer product personalization provide a valuable service. In fact, more than 45% of the shoppers are more likely to shop from a brand that offers personalized recommendations for the customers.
Interestingly, the increasing popularity of product customization has made the online shopping experience intriguing for the customers. So, it is high time to offer product customization services and take brand businesses to the next level.
In today’s internet era, data has opened up opportunities for brand strategists to personalize marketing. With unique design and styling value, brands can boldly attempt to grab customer’s attention rightfully. Consumers want products tailored to their specific needs, desires, and style.
What better than offering customization from where brand strategists and retailers can increase their value and differentiate themselves from the competition. Some common ways of going about customizing your products would be adding desired images, putting customized text, or even QR code!
Data availability and increased purchasing power have pushed retailers to create products and services beyond the standard selection. While customization was seen as a luxury feature, traditionally, fashion’s democratization has led to many brands starting to offer their service as another way to engage consumers and increase their engagement.
Studies suggest that customization makes financial sense too and can also be a sustainable production method. Products can be created to meet the exact demand, thus minimizing the risk of excess stock. This is a business model called – on-demand product/ service that is gaining a lot of traction in recent times.
With each passing day, manufacturing processes are becoming more sophisticated and streamlined via features like 3D printing and automation. Customization is something we see a lot these days and will continue to see more of in the future.
Here are some brands driving engagement through customization.
- Louis Vuitton: The sneaker industry is expected to be worth $95.14 billion by 2025 and Louis Vuitton is one such luxury brand that has managed to mark its presence in the booming customization market. By offering its own customized sneakers to its customers, Louis Vuitton customers were given the option to customize the Run Away sneaker by changing its color, material, and stripes and even getting their initials printed or hot stamped on the shoe for an extra personal touch.
- Puma: To enhance the in-store, customer experience of Puma at their flagship store in New York, USA, the brand created an exclusive customization studio. The studio offered a range of footwear and apparel that could be customized using paints, patchwork, embroidery, 3D knitting, laser printing. Along with collaborating with new artists on a bi-weekly basis, the store also offered an option for material upcycling.
- Levi’s: Levi’s brand strategy has revolved around making products your own since the original blue jean was patented back in 1873. Many of Levi’s shops even have a dedicated tailor shop that can customize and repair products, such as adding patches, studs, embroidery, stenciling, and distressing. This allows consumers to have a one-of-a-kind product. To align with its sustainability initiatives, Levi’s also offers a full repair service which helps the customer fix everything from fixing rips and holes and making well-worn jeans look brand new and gain a new lease of life.
- Absolut Vodka: In 2012, Absolut Vodka rolled out bottles, custom-designed to convert the trend of limited-edition packaging into an effective personalized branding move. At that time, many brands were rolling out limited-edition package designs for cause marketing and seasonal marketing campaigns. Unlike them, Absolut went a step further by creating 4 million unique bottle designs with every bottle slightly different from the next one. Each bottle was accompanied by its own identifying number. The campaign tagline read, “Absolut Unique. One of a kind. Millions of expressions.” This kind of promotion targeted an audience-driven by the desire to own their own set of collectible branded items. Ultimately, the entire campaign was proven to be an intelligent move to make Absolut an exclusive alcohol brand.
To really get a sense of how real personalization is, we spoke to Sneaks By Freaks, a sneaker customizing brand that is looking to help Generation Z express their fashion sense differently.
Taking inspiration from Dillon DeJesus, a famous sneaker artist, Sneaks By Freaks was started by a brother-sister duo who started personalizing sneakers by hand painting them. A firm believer in high quality and the skillful execution of the customer request, the pricing differs on a per order basis.
By personalizing just about 3 pairs of shoes a week, Sneaks By Freaks also stain proofs the shoe preventing them from marks and ridges, and delivers them all over India accompanied with a hangtag. The brand objective is simple – sell a product that the customer is passionate about. We’d say even though they’re just 3 months under serving the customers, they’re killing it!
Head on to their Instagram page to know more about their work.
It is wise to remember that not all customers want the same thing. The aim of customizing is to bring out customer satisfaction while creating avenues for repeat sales and not just one time sale.
The brand that has captured this fact can imprint themselves in the customer’s mindshare for a long time, hence increasing their CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).
If you are a brand that can in any way customize your product offerings, try it! All hail word of mouth marketing and you should be ready to welcome new customers, soon. If you are a customer, don’t you agree, it is always important to feel prioritized by your chosen brand?