Personalisation: It's got your name on it
Personalisation is one of the broadest ways in which brands can add an experiential element to distinguish themselves. Making something feel unique to each consumer and giving them a sense that a brand is engaging with them on a personal level can range from building entirely bespoke products to simply tweaking packaging to provide what only feels like personalisation.
While the opportunities for personalisation are vast the practicalities can often get in the way. Online, personalised experiences are relatively straightforward. In fact, they have become more of a default, whether that’s through saved shopping lists, Netfl ix off ering tailored recommendations of what to watch next or targeted advertising based on previous purchases. It’s much more of a challenge in the world of analogue retail. Depending on the category, bespoke elements may either be impossible (where products are prepackaged or mass produced) or come at great cost of time and money to the consumer – think of a Saville Row suit or made-to-measure furniture.
Creating a tailored experience
By giving customers a sense of control over the contents and functionality of a product, brands can benefit from the engagement stimulated by a truly personalised experience without needing to commit too many resources. Pepsi’s Drinkfinity range – flavour pods intended to be used on the go to enhance tap water – makes consumers feel they are creating their own tailored drink, giving them a more personal relationship with the product.
The iconic ‘Share a Coke with…’ campaign, which replaced the brand’s logo with popular male and female names on its cans, took this one step further and featured no real personalisation whatsoever. Consumers still reacted as though they had a chance to make a bespoke purchase, buying bottles as much to share with friends on social media as to actually drink.
Whereabouts in the customer journey an experience takes place can vary. ‘Share a Coke with...’ engaged customers at the moment of purchase, but these strategies can be just as effective at the point of consumption or further down the line. High-end brands like Apple invest in their distinctive packaging so heavily because peeling off the plastic cover and being the first to touch a virgin phone gives consumers such a rush, YouTube videos of others doing this often merit millions of views.
Considering every stage of the journey
Personalisation can come even later. Yeo Valley and Fairy Liquid, for example, encouraged shoppers to get creative with their empty packaging, demonstrating the importance and effectiveness of using experiential at each and every stage of the consumer/brand interaction.
For brands and manufacturers, this and other experiential approaches have the added advantage of engaging consumers in a way that doesn’t rely on money-saving promotions, which can often leave consumers feeling confused or misled. An opportunity to move away from promotions is a welcome reprieve for consumers and a way brands can add value to a commoditised market. However, the challenge which remains is how to fi nd a way of making each product individual while still maintaining production values and brand consistency
Keep it simple
A word of warning is also required. Overreliance on personalisation or leaving too much to the discretion of the consumer can lead to shoppers feeling confused and overburdened. Waitrose’s ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ initiative gave its customers a choice of products to buy at a discount, but with the onus on the shopper to make the decision it proved counterproductive. As with many aspects of experiential, it’s all about having an idea which is strong and simple. This will drive true engagement.
This is an excerpt from our report "How does that make you feel?" about the power of consumer experiences. Get your copy of the report today, and watch the video in which James Brown explains how personalisation can give your brand an edge at all stages of the customer journey.