The personal touch - by Ian Addie, Planner Golley Retail

In the pre-digital era personalised products were largely the possession of the upper classes; think tailored Saville Row suits, monogramed handkerchiefs, private registration plates and bone china emblazoned with a personal coat of arms. Personalised products meant bespoke and time consuming artisan craftmanship, synonymous with a quality only wealth could command.

Nowadays, with the advent of digital technologies, the production of and access to personalised and customised products has become widespread. No longer do people have to seek out a craftsman, pay a significant fee and wait for their dream of an individualised t-shirt, birthday card, pair of shoes or motor vehicle to be realised. These days the internet enables virtually anybody to upload personal specifications for a product that through automated production systems are rapidly and cheaply, laser cut, 3D printed, auto-knitted and otherwise digitally fabricated.

Brands are increasingly catching on to this trend as a way of engaging with shoppers and consumers alike, but ensuring a proposition is authentic is critical to success. Without clearly communicating the benefit of personalisation brands stand to risk poor return on investment, alienation and at worst a damaging consumer backlash.

Take for example Nutella’s personalisation misfire which in 2015 gave Australians the opportunity to customise their jars. Without a strong and loyal following to buy into the proposition and make it a success the result was a social media storm in which cynical consumers emblazoned jars with words such as “Poop”, “Diabetes” and even “Hitler” forcing the brand to retract the campaign.

At Golley Retail we’ve put personalised propositions under the microscope and developed a model to help assess the right positioning for your personalised proposition.

The model takes account of both the nature of the personalisation that’s being offered and the purpose that personalisation serves for the consumer and shopper, enabling brands to critically assess their personalisation strategy and improve the chances of developing a viable and authentic proposition.

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