Personalization has been and continues to be a hot topic with marketing – NYC Media Lab just hosted Personalizationpalooza – and the consumer definition and expectations around it continue to change as technology and tools continue to advance. Mass personalization, whether it’s creating your own Nike IDs or crowd-sourced innovation like Lay’s Do Us a Flavor or more recently at SXSW, 3D printing Oreo cookie flavors based on what’s trending on Twitter, has become the norm for consumers. All of this is starting to not only change consumer expectations, but also disrupt the new product development (NPD) process.
What are some aspects of personalization that we need to consider when it comes to innovation?
1) It’s not about choice, but rather relevance
Consumers aren’t necessarily looking for a breadth of choice when it comes to products and services – they’re seeking out the offerings that feel as if they were created specifically for their life and that align with their values. So when it comes to innovation, it’s important to focus efforts on creating products that can facilitate an emotional connection by demonstrating to the consumer that “we get you”. One of the easiest ways of establishing that connection is through consumer research that is designed to really unearth explicit and implicit motivations to get to the unrealized and unmet needs of the consumer.
2) Speed to market is more important than ever
As technology product cycles continue to set the point of reference for consumers when it comes to innovation and new products, the expectations around how quickly and frequently new product launches occur has fundamentally changed. When it comes to NPD, getting creative and leveraging nontraditional tools like 3D printers can lower associated capital investment and facilitate micro-scale experiments that not only gather consumer data and insights, but also can generate buzz for the brand.
3) Deconstructing the pieces to give consumers the tools
With the influence of the Maker Movement, more consumers are embracing a return to “making” products themselves, whether it’s buying the raw ingredients to create their own cleaning solutions or implementing hacks to personalize Ikea furniture. There’s an opportunity for companies to embrace this trend and provide consumers all of the pieces and tools that they need in order to “make” your product at home. In doing so, the consumers will have a stronger sense of ownership and pride for the finished product, having been a “co-creator” in the making process. Taking inspiration from the meal subscription services like Blue Apron that curate and deliver to your home all the ingredients that one needs to prepare a meal, what are some ways that you can deconstruct one of your current products? What are the components that consumers would be able to prep or assemble on their own?
By tapping into the latest consumer and technology trends and understanding the underlying factors that play in consumer affinity for customization and personalization, brands can play their cards right during the NPD process and successfully win the hearts of their consumers.