This article was co-written by Laura Kurtin and Amy Dodge.
Those of us who have studied marketing in school and have worked in the industry tend to be a bit cynical about some of the gimmicks and ploys companies use to encourage us to buy their products and services. However, when we see our favorite product sitting on the store shelf in a fun new package (right next to the package we’ve always bought), and it costs a little more than we’re used to paying, we’re still pretty likely to put that in our cart – and we’re savvy enough to know that the product inside is exactly same as it’s always been! While having too many options has been proven to cause fatigue and create inner turmoil, providing some choice is a way for each individual to create an identity that feels unique and special.
Everywhere You Turn, Customization
Customization has begun to permeate just about everything we consume these days. Nike ID was among the first to capitalize on the trend, giving consumers the ability to create any color combination we want for those new kicks and then tag them. Food menus have a whole section of substitutes available, and they actually encourage you to tell the server any restrictions or requests. We’re no longer on the receiving end of deep sighs from the waiter when we ask them to hold the blue cheese! We’re also encouraged to switch out our phone cases as trends change and to house our FitBits within designer bracelets. In the very near future, we’ll maybe even be able to 3D print our way to a new replacement part for our broken microwave!
The Future of Customization…in the Present
But, in the meantime in what feels like the ultimate customization, there is now the ability to 3D print one’s make-up. One simply has to upload a photo of a desired look or color scheme and voila!… the make-up is printed directly onto your face using a device containing facial recognition software. While customization typically focuses on more functional benefits, this really hits an emotional high note as well. A perfectly made-up face is the ultimate form of expression among women, making them feel ‘complete’ and ‘beautiful’, and this type of customization adds a dimension lacking in many other types of customized offerings.
While unique and ever-changing consumer needs are driving this trend of customization, in order to truly capitalize on it, companies need to understand not only the right mix of options but also how to hook consumers by providing both functional and emotional benefits.