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Make it personal: product customization is going mainstream – IdeaRoom

Make it personal: product customization is going mainstream

Consumers continue to spend more time researching their purchases before ever contacting the manufacturer or seller of the products they intend to buy. Increasingly, this approach includes customized and personalized products, which previously required direct conversation between the seller and the prospective customer.

Elizabeth Spaulding and Christopher Perry from Bain & Company delivered a great article on this very topic: Making it personal: Rules for success in product customization.

One key takeaway from this article: “Those customers that had customized a product online engaged more with the company.”

This article also outlines several important implications of the customization trend:

  1. Customers are willing to pay more for a custom product. According to Spaulding & Perry, 20% more than for standard equivalents.

  2. The products configurations consumers buy can provide an early indicator of changing product trends. For example, Brooks Brothers uses information about what its customers buy to plan future products. Information gleaned from actual purchase behavior is much more valuable than what can be gathered through surveys and focus groups.

  3. Customers that purchased customized products were more loyal, which meant they bought more and made more referrals than those that didn’t customize.

For those offering customized product or considering it, this article provides some important recommendations about how to increase your likelihood of success. Their study found that successful companies followed five key rules:

  1. Decide on your objectives for providing customization, such as branding, improving product margin, differentiation, or even creating a new core business around customized products.

  2. Decide how much customization you should to offer. More is not necessarily better.

  3. Keep it simple. Providing too many options confuses your customer and can lead to negative experience for your customer

  4. Let people share. Allowing your customer to post their personalized product on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter means building greater loyalty and brand awareness for you.

  5. Enhance the customer experience. Your customer needs to enjoy the design process

As consumers engage with products and companies that allow for customization, the expectation is set that this is now possible and should be available for all products. Companies looking to stay ahead of their competitors should be evaluating how they can offer customizable products to their customers.