Consumer behaviour has changed from buying a product which was made for everybody to a product which made for ‘me’.
Couldn’t help overhear a conversation between two mothers complaining about their children – “This generation is so self-centred, all they think about is themselves”.
We had done a dipstick among our customers and asked them what merchandise they wanted in our cafes and many of them asked for personalized products – products which had their name, customized to suit their requirements.
The two examples are very significant for the orientation and inclination of customers across segments. Consumer behaviour has changed from buying a product which was made for everybody to a product which made for ‘me’.
The Internet is all about personalised experiences. We get information when we want it, at a time convenient to us and customized to a large extent.
Look at the way Internet products have evolved. First, we had the general all-encompassing portals like Yahoo; then came the language portals and specialized portals; followed by the messengers and chat; and finally came products that focused on the individual. These products or experiences centred around giving the user, services and information which he/she wants, and not a generalized one.
Facebook, Twitter etc. are all about communicating one’s thoughts and actions. It is not surprising that these have been a hit with most of the world’s Internet-friendly inhabitants.
Loosely put, even the form factors of Internet access have changed. Smartphones and tablets are manifestations of personalized behaviour. Once upon a time, we accessed the net through large PCs (in fact one PC was shared by many) and now we access the net through our phones!
High-end hotels & resorts are looking at personalizing your experience at their properties. The loyalty programs have morphed into relationship programs that gather information on the food you eat, the rooms you like and many other personal preferences. Some airlines have also done so for some of their premium class frequent fliers.
Even some iconic brands have got into the act.
went into a frenzy. Coke was seeing diminishing sales in the youth market. And they personalized Coke! In the first stage 150 different Coca-Cola bottles were released, each with a different name. Using the most popular names in Australia- Matt, Jack, John, Steve, Mary, William, Isabella, and Chloe among others, each name was written boldly on the bottle in the Coke font. And naturally, as soon as these bottles reached the shop shelves they were picked up. The second stage involved 18 chosen shopping centres, where you could go to have your name printed. People waited for hours to get their ‘own’ bottle.
Lego went a step ahead. They allowed customers to take a photograph of their choice. Lego would develop a set that will allow everyone to view the same picture built through a customized Lego set of blocks.
Governmental organizations are not far behind. The Japanese postal service took the lead in releasing personalized stamps. Go to the Japan Post’s website, and design your very own stamp. Within a few minutes, you have your personalized stamp which is legally valid!
All brands need to adopt techniques and technology in which they will be able to personalize their experiences. Apparel brands will need to offer bespoke services. Cars are already being customized (sorry Ford), food is made – made to order and unique. Examples can be reeled out but the reality is that with the ‘I, Me, Myself’ generation the uniqueness is ‘I, Me, Myself!