The problem with living in a material world is that scores of other consumers will own the same items and objects of you. From cars and clothes to other status symbols and fashion statements, the vast majority of us want to stand out from the crowd and be special in some way.
This aspiration has not gone unnoticed by big businesses wanting to attract more customers through unique offerings. The best thing about this is that marketing tactics like co-creation and personalised products also increase levels of engagement, strengthen brand relationships, and encourage more sales.
It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Businesses are connecting with customers in ways not previously possible, while everyday consumers feel like empowered individuals.
But can this kind of customisable and collaborative experience be replicated in other areas of marketing? Take content for example, which can speak to the distinctive wants and needs of audiences if created with relevancy in mind. Can consumers play a part in the production process too? And will they end up with an exclusive artefact designed especially for them?
In the past, a brand would release a new product and consumers would either love it or loathe it. Today, customers can ensure they view the same items with deep affection, as co-creation enables anyone to be the designer or developer.
Take NikeID for example. This service gives customers the opportunity to take their favourite piece of Nike merchandise, such as a pair of Michael Jordan’s basketball trainers or Cristiano Ronaldo’s football boots, and customise them as they see fit. This includes choosing bold colours, different materials and personalised branding such as names or initials.
You may end up paying a little bit more than the standard product and have to wait for it to be manufactured and delivered, but the result is something nobody else in the world owns. Since NikeID’s launch, numerous other brands including Vans, Adidas, and Reebok have released their own bespoke clothing experiences, proving that it is still commercially viable for businesses to adopt new and different production processes in order to cater for individual tastes.
But while clothing might not be the most technically difficult item to construct, other products are also jumping on the co-creation bandwagon. Moto Maker enables tech-obsessed consumers to add metal accents, colourful hues, real woods and laser-etched signatures to their new Motorola smartphone, which is quite remarkable when you think how today’s mobile devices are manufactured.
And for brands and businesses where profit margins are tight and products need to be produced on a huge scale, there is still scope for personalisation.
You would think that the only way to purchase a truly personalised product is to have a say in its design and construction. But as Coca-Cola proved, this isn’t the case. With its “Share a Coke” campaign, the world’s leading beverage brand struck marketing gold, which proved personalisation can extend to almost any product.
As you no doubt saw, Coca-Cola replaced its famous branding on bottles with popular forenames. This meant while browsing for beverages, customers would see their name or that of a friend and instantly think they needed to buy the product. In the UK, sales increased by almost 5 per cent during the campaign. This is no mean feat for a company that manages to sell 1.8 billion bottles of coke every day worldwide.
But the possibilities of personalisation don’t end there. Thanks to the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets, which transmit personal data such as our location to e-commerce sites and stores, we can receive personalised offers based on where we live.
These offers can be even more personal if audience segmentation is also taken into account. This looks at personal data from social media sites or landing page forms to determine our favourite interests or past purchasing behaviour. Some consumers may be reluctant to share such private details, but those who don’t mind will be rewarded with extremely relevant products and promotions.
Through the use of location services and the availability of personal data, it is possible to deliver relevant content experiences to target audiences. Things like blogs, infographics and videos will still be seen by the same people, but the content will directly speak to their partialities and preferences.
This is incredibly important in today’s overcrowded online world, where content must stick out and be noticed in order to get consumed. Generic content will no longer cut it, as consumers can easily go back to their original search or browse social media for a more personalised experienced.
So, what about co-creation? Well, from a marketing point of view, several brands have tried to get customers involved in the process of promoting and publicising goods through their actions. Urban Outfitters’ “Show Us Your UO” section of its website enables shoppers to submit images of their own outfits with links to the clothing product pages.
Lego has also published stop-motion movies of its figures in action, which has encouraged customers to do the same. As of September 2014, 20 million of these videos appeared on YouTube, while conventions and competitors mean this figure keeps growing. But is there any way of merging co-creation and personalisation, which results in a piece of useful and valuable content?