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How personalisation has allowed these businesses to offer unique experiences

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The brands mentioned so far have all been successful in figuring out where and when personalisation works in product design, and what can be gained by it. Each took completely different steps in the personalisation process, and first probably needed to figure out how much say the customer would have in the process.

Of course, some products offer better customisation opportunities for businesses than others. These are likely to be in categories where consumers can justify a price premium to achieve differentiation, such as luxury holidays, specialised food products or high-end fashion goods.

In a May 2015 report by Deloitte, consumers were asked to rank different categories based on their preferred level of involvement in the personalisation process. This ranked from passive consumer involvement, mass personalisation and bespoke. 

Consumers want to be actively contributing to the personalisation process in categories where the item is more expensive, such as holidays or furniture, or where they would like to add a personal touch such as in fashion accessories or clothing. And categories where consumers want to play an active role, but are happy to choose from a set of more limited options, include flights, hotels or electrical goods.

Consumers are happy to play a less active role in categories that are more commoditised, such as alcoholic drinks.

Shoes have become one of the more competitive fields when it comes to creating bespoke products. Nike, for example, is frequently cited as something of a trailblazer with its online trainer customisation service NikeiD. The Nike+ platform further enabled users to learn about themselves via its personalised training and tracking systems.

This was also recently seen by Adidas’s latest offering: customisable Star Wars sneakers. The “mi star wars” allows customers choose an arrangement from various colours, prints, and logos online. It’s a clever marketing ploy ahead of the new Star Wars movie.

Nonetheless, brands in other sectors have also begun experimenting with personalisation. Interflora has developed an online service whereby customers can design their own bouquet by “dragging and dropping” from more than 70 flower and foliage options. Then there’s Whisky Blender, an online shop which enables consumers to create their own blends from up to seven varieties of the spirit, then design a label for the bottle. 

Of course, if you’re unsure where to start, then stick to gift products as they are often seen as ripe for personalisation. Moonpig, which built a successful greeting-cards business and has since expanded into other areas, is a case in point. Its online, template-driven offering keeps the cost of personalisation comparatively cheap, while making the product more relevant.

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