Getting Personal

15 Dec 2014|Louise Coupe

The festive season is upon us, and with it comes the scramble to buy Christmas presents – getting the right gift for the right person is all part of the torment but also the delight, when you do get it right.

It is so much more than just giving materialistic possessions: it’s a unique way of showing someone that you have thought about what’s meaningful to them, that you care. And what better way to do that than to go one step further and personalise a unique gift. The popularity of the likes of and have been built on the premise of uniqueness and personalisation, making it easy to go the extra mile and create something bespoke and therefore, rare.

But personalisation, the sense that we are all individuals and should be treated as such, is not restricted simply to the gift industry. It’s a trend that has become pervasive. Products that are tailored are intuitively believed to be more effective or efficient, and why not, after all they’re ‘fine-tuned’ to you.

Wearable technology is the most straight-forward realisation of this trend: people are demanding smarter gadgets . Bespoke extensions of their bodies that monitor and feedback information previously the realm of experts only. We are becoming used to being in control and tracking more and more aspects of our lives with increasing accuracy and detail. The reveal of the new Apple Watch this year helped catapult wearable tech from the fringes of the tech domain into the mainstream vision. Apple have already announced their desire to make the new watch more ‘intimately’ involved in consumers lives – personal data and health statistics are just the start.

This increased sense of personalisation and control is extending to all aspects of peoples lives. And with it comes a desire to squeeze the most from every moment, to be as rich and full as it can be; with the flipside being you waste less time on things that matter less to you. Google are developing the Project Ara smartphone where you can select the aspects of a phone that are most important to you. This could be more battery life or a higher camera spec, the phone will be designed to meet your personal needs rather than be a one size fits all approach.

Virgin is trialling wearable technology with the aim of turbocharging the delivery of its high-end bespoke customer service, making it more seamless and effortless for consumers than ever before. They trialled the use of Google Glass for business class air stewards and check-in staff, using facial recognition technology, with the idea that customer’s preferences would be factored into service without the customer having to ask.
In beauty, personalisation is not a new phenomenon, what’s changed is the degree of personalisation possible. No longer restricted to generic ‘skin types’ GeneOnyx skin care uses advanced DNA technology to determine which products are perfect for specific users on a deep, cellular level.

Gen Z is at the forefront of this movement, and they are demanding not simply personalised products but personalised ‘DIY’ experiences, allowing the consumer to have some creative input. NikeID kicked off this development, but there have been variations on this idea since; Adidas launched a customisable shoe that allows any Instagram photo to be imprinted on their trainers and even Prada held a one off event where customers could choose different aspects of their shoe. Unilever’s Magnum introduced pop-up stores to design your own ice-cream. Meanwhile the entertainment industry has also got involved with the production of interactive TV shows, theatre creations and music videos, including ‘Choose Your Own Documentary’, a live show where audiences received remote controls and by answering a series of questions as the show progressed enabled them to shape the unfolding story.

Personalisation is an exciting opportunity for brands to connect with consumers. It is an opportunity to own a fresh sharp dialogue with consumers that builds relevance. But to do this powerfully, there must be a firm connection to an enduring brand idea and an understanding of the consumer need that sits at the heart of the concept. Ultimately, personalisation is about empowerment of self-expression, giving the consumer the tools to enhance their own unique experiences and emotions. If the consumers’ desires are forgotten and instead assumptions about needs and wants are made, then personalisation can quickly lose its appeal and the brand becomes merely a superficial distraction, whose relevance and loyalty quickly fades.

As you begin to think about your next innovation, consider how you can best create for the many, whilst tailoring for the individual by meaningfully translating your brand idea into a strong sense of personalisation and shared ownership. You can only do this by truly understanding your audience’s needs, their desires and the cultures that surround their lives.


Written by Louise Coupe

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