More and more consumers are gravitating to products that are personalized or can be customized for their individual tastes. They love the feeling that they are buying something unique that allows them to stand out in the crowd.
The consumer research trend company, Trend Watching, has written about the shift to one-of-a-kind products. In a recent online newsletter, their editors write, “No longer do consumers want to be like the Joneses, the Mullers or the Li’s. When individuality rules and conformity is frowned upon, owning something no one else has is hot.”
Applying this concept to the mass consumer market, Trend Watching goes on to write that buyers are looking to be masters of their own “Youniverse.”
Emphasis on the You.
Along these same lines, from the Oct. 27, 2008 issue of U.S. News and World Report, the publication describes the consumer market as it shifts from mass to unique. They coined the word “Meconomy” to describe this new trend.
Emphasis on the Me.
Where did this yearning for uniqueness come from? The modern personalization industry is pretty much an American phenomenon. Our country is comprised of people who just plain love to own things that are personalized.
That personalization could be as simple as a first name on a mug or a soft nursery blanket with baby’s initials. It might be custom-designed sneakers for the obsessive runner or make-up that is blended to perfectly match someone’s skin coloring. It might even be personalized stationary and postage stamps customized with a photo of the family pet. Today, the personalization options are practically endless.
The economy is even having a positive effect on the personalization industry. Faced with a deepening recession, shoppers are demanding that their purchases be more meaningful. A customized gift will fill this need.
U.S. News and World Report Agrees, “By customizing, shoppers can get the most out of less frequent splurges. And, the trend is not restricted to those with money – it spans ages, income groups, and regions.”
Customization has become even more popular and prevalent with online purchases. Websites make it easy to create products just the way you want them.
If you are a Baby Boomer, you will no doubt remember the Burger King “Have it Your Way” ad campaign from the 1970s. It was a catchy jingle with a simple message: visit Burger King rather than the ubiquitous McDonalds and we’ll fix your burger any way you want it.
In essence, Burger King was emphasizing the fact that they would individualize your fast-food experience. The campaign seems simple and tame now, but it was pretty revolutionary back then. Burger King was able to stand out when everyone else was promoting price and predictability.
Today’s consumers want their buying experience to be tailored and personalized just for them. Sure, Wal-Mart will still be the destination for household staples and buyers will visit Costco for the best electronics deals. But for many other purchases, buyers are looking for companies and choices that are outside of the big box. Instead of a name brand that is mass produced (and marketed to the hilt), they want products that relate to their life, a product that makes a personal connection. They want to “have it their way.”