By Robert Passikoff, Founder & President of Brand Keys.
The convergence of two trends has morphed into an increased desire on the parts of consumers for more customized product and service offerings.
One is consumers' heightened feeling of control over virtually every aspect of their lives. The second, the commoditisation of almost everything creates a natural craving on the parts of consumers for things that represent them, i.e., more customized stuff.
So in a world where differentiation was hard to come by, and to avoid becoming a commodity, products and services looked for values that they could "own;" that would differentiate them, at least in the short term, from the competition.
In this case - looking at the 57 categories and nearly 400 brands measured in the Brand Keys' Customer Loyalty Engagement Index - we found that the average percent-of-contribution that "customization" makes to product and service engagement, adoption, and loyalty (and, therefore, profitability) is currently 18%, or nearly five times what the value was when it was first measured in 1997!
You don't have to look hard for examples. You can go on-line and design your own running shoes right down to the color of the shoelaces. Or customise your new automobile. Or put your child's graduation picture on your credit card, while you select the time of month you want your statement to be sent. Or pick from 8,000 customized coffee combinations.
How do you customise your computer right down to your screensaver photo of your trip to the Great Barrier Reef? Let me count the ways. It's something most consumers take for granted today.
Of the 57 categories that make up the 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty
Engagement Index, the Top 10 categories where customization has become one of the largest brand differentiators are:
2. Athletic Footwear
3. On-Line (Literally and virtually all of them)
5. Cell Phones
8. Parcel Delivery
9. Coffee Providers
10. Clothing Catalogs
And those are only the Top 10.
So, when you take a long hard look at your category and discover that most products and services are providing perfectly acceptable levels of primacy of product/service, and customers are perfectly "satisfied" with what they're getting, the question being asked by the consumer today is, "What have you done for ME lately?"
Which is an important question when consumers are going to judge you with their wallets and pocketbooks
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